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More than one million estimated at unprecedented Paris march

Sunday, January 11, 2015 - 00:59

An estimated million-plus group of French citizens march through Paris to pay tribute to victims of Islamist militant attacks. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: An estimated million-plus French citizens march through Paris in an unprecedented rally under high security to pay tribute to victims of Islamist militant attacks. Paris police said the turnout was "without precedent" but too large to count. One organizer said he had indications it could be between 1.3 and 1.5 million people. Some commentators said the last street presence in the capital on this scale was at the Liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany in 1944. President Francois Hollande and leaders from Germany, Italy, Israel, Turkey, Britain and the Palestinian territories among others, moved off from the central Place de la Republique ahead of a sea of French and other flags. Giant letters attached to a statue in the square spelt out the word "Pourquoi?" (Why?) and small groups sang the "La Marseillaise" national anthem. Some 2,200 police and soldiers patrolled Paris streets to protect marchers from would-be attackers, with police snipers on rooftops and plain-clothes detectives mingling with the crowd. City sewers were searched ahead of the vigil and underground train stations around the march route are due to be closed down. The march mostly went ahead in a respectful silence, reflecting shock over the worst militant Islamist assault on a European city in nine years. For France, it raised questions of free speech, religion and security, and beyond French frontiers it exposed the vulnerability of states to urban attacks. Two of the gunmen had declared allegiance to al Qaeda in Yemen and a third to the militant Islamic State. All three were killed during the police operations in what local commentators have called "France's 9/11", a reference to the September 2001 attacks on U.S. targets by al Qaeda. In London, several landmarks including Tower Bridge were due to be lit up in the red, white, and blue colors of the French national flag in a show of support for the event in Paris. Fifty-seven people were killed in an Islamist militant attack on London's transport system in 2005.

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More than one million estimated at unprecedented Paris march

Sunday, January 11, 2015 - 00:59