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French government seeks further extension of state of emergency

AFP file photo of French police on patrol.

France's government is calling for a three-month extension of the state of emergency declared in the wake of the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, its spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.

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"The state of emergency is useful in the fight against terrorism," said Stéphane Le Foll, the government spokesman, adding that the threat of further attacks remains "extremely high".

The measure, proposed in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning, now requires the approval of both chambers in the French parliament.

The state of emergency has already been extended once and was scheduled to end on Feb. 26. It expands police powers to carry out arrests and searches and allows authorities to forbid the movement of persons and vehicles at specific times and places.

Another government bill also presented Wednesday would further extend police powers. It would allow officers to use their weapons to "neutralise someone who has just committed one or several murders and is likely to repeat these crimes".

Currently, self-defence is the only legal justification for shooting someone. The proposed change would, for instance, permit police to shoot a gunman who has fired at civilians and is deemed likely to do so again.

The proposals would also make it easier for police to carry out raids at night, and searches of luggage and vehicles near "sensitive" sites and buildings.

France's state of emergency has been criticised by United Nations rights experts for imposing "excessive and disproportionate" restrictions on key rights.

The UN panel had urged the French government not to extend the emergency powers beyond the February deadline.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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