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'A dozen' drones fly over Paris in latest mystery sighting


Around a dozen drones were reported flying over areas of the French capital overnight, Paris police said on Wednesday, the latest in a series of unexplained drone sightings.


The small aircraft were seen flying near the River Seine, the Place de la Concorde, the Invalides military museum and around the Paris ring road, known as the périphérique.

Authorities are now looking to verify "if all the reports were really drone flights", a police source told AFP.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said late on Tuesday that France had registered some 60 drone sightings near nuclear plants or over central Paris since October.

An investigation was launched after EDF (Eléctricité de France) said seven nuclear plants across the country had reported drone fly-overs between October 5 and October 20. France is the world’s most nuclear-reliant country, with 58 reactors on 19 sites operated by EDF.

Experts say that the small, unmanned craft would pose no danger even if crashed into a nuclear facility.

But French law bans civilian drones from sensitive areas, including nuclear facilities.

France has some of the world’s most advanced legislation on the use of recreational drones, allowing them to be flown without a permit in airspace under 500 feet but banning them over populated areas, airfields or military and nuclear sites, which are protected by a no-fly zone with a 2.5-kilometre (1.6-mile) radius and a height of 1,000 metres.

On Tuesday a court fined a British journalist for Al Jazeera €1,000 ($1,100) for flying a drone over central Paris and confiscated his machine. Tristan Redman, 34, was arrested last month in the Bois de Boulogne park in western Paris along with two other journalists.

The two others were released while Redman pleaded guilty to flying a drone over the capital. A source with knowledge of the case said the journalists were not involved in the earlier incidents.

Drones over the palace, Senate

A drone sparked particular concern in January when it was seen flying over the Elysée Palace, the residence of President François Hollande.

At least five drones were seen in Paris overnight from February 23-24, with the first drone spotted near the US embassy. The Eiffel Tower, the Place de la Concorde and Invalides "were also flown over", a security source said at the time.

Another five drones were reported over central Paris the next night by both witnesses and police. The small aircraft were again seen near the US embassy, Invalides and the Eiffel Tower, as well as over the French Senate and above several major thoroughfares leading out of the French capital.

Police have yet to make any arrests over the mysterious night-time sightings, and it remains unclear whether the drone flights are simply the work of pranksters or something more malicious.

The unexplained fly-overs come at a time when France remains on high alert following a series of jihadist attacks in January that left 17 people dead as well as the three gunmen.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

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