A new French counter-terrorism task force starts its first day on the job, less than 24 hours after another apparent militant attack hit Paris at its Notre Dame cathedral. Matthew Larotonda reports.
EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES Less than a day after Paris police thwarted an assailant armed with a hammer outside the city's Notre Dame cathedral, a new French counter-terrorism task force having its first day on the job. It's goal: To better coordinate the country's multiple security agencies, directly from the French presidential palace - with a staff over 20, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. France's president, Emmanuel Macron, ordering its creation last month, after he was portrayed by rivals as weak on national security during his presidential campaign. His allies face a parliamentary election on Tuesday (June 13). Macron's also pledged to rebuild the country's domestic surveillance agencies. They were cut down by conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008. Over 230 people have been killed in France by Islamist militants in the last two and a half years. The country's in a state of emergency. The attack at Notre Dame was stopped before it could get out of hand. This CCTV footage showing the moment the assailant assaulted the police officer, before he was shot. Authorities say he shouted "This is for Syria." Almost a thousand tourists and worshippers locked inside the cathedral as it was put on lockdown. A Reuters source has identified the attacker as 40-year old Farid Ikken, originally from Algeria, and a student in communications. A video said to be found in his apartment showing him pledging to Islamic State. But both the French government, and an aquaintance who spoke to media, say he expressed no extreme views. Intelligence services across Europe are under scrutiny as they struggle to deal with a wave of attacks. Simple and unsophisticated assaults such as this, and the recent vehicle and knife attack in London, proving difficult to prevent.