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France to form National Guard to counter terrorist threat, Hollande says

Mehdi Fedouach, AFP

French President François Hollande on Thursday confirmed that a National Guard would be formed from existing reserve forces to better protect citizens facing terror attacks.

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A "defence council" to be held early next month will hammer out the force's hierarchy and command structure, Hollande's office said in a statement.

The president said parliamentary consultations on the formation of the force would take place in September "so that this force can be created as quickly as possible".

He said he hoped the guard, made up of volunteers from the police, paramilitary police and military, would be operational by early autumn.

Hollande had called on French “patriots” to enlist in the country's operational reserves in the wake of the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice in which 84 people were killed.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Wednesday that “2,500 French people have said they are interested and we are getting constant new inquiries”.

The French presidency said some 15,000 operational reservists should be available by the end of the month "to ensure security for various events of the summer".

France has not had a national guard since 1872.

Members of the very first one, formed in 1789 at the outset of the French Revolution, wore a blue, white and red rosette on their hats – the origin of the French national colours.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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