Police Seek Terror Suspects in Geneva After Paris Attacks

Updated on
  • Geneva police raise level of vigilance for Swiss canton
  • Threat `more real,' says Geneva Department of Security

Geneva police are looking for possible terror suspects after raising the level of vigilance for the Swiss canton less than a month after attacks in Paris killed 130.

Police in Geneva are deploying additional agents after being informed by Swiss federal authorities on Wednesday afternoon that the people may be in the area. The search is in “the context of investigations begun following the Paris terror attacks,” the police said on its website Thursday. The hunt for suspects comes before the U.S., Russia and the United Nations meet in Geneva on Friday for preparatory talks on Syria.

“We have increased the number of police in the streets,” Emmanuelle Lo Verso, a spokeswoman for Geneva’s Department of Security, said by phone. “The threat is more real.”

French police have used state-of-emergency measures put in place after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris to round up people with suspected links to terrorist cells. The Geneva police said on Thursday they are working with their counterparts in France and the neighboring canton of Vaud.

There is no indication these people are directly linked to the Paris attacks, Cathy Maret, a spokeswoman for the Swiss federal police, said by phone. She declined to comment on the number of suspects being sought.

Prosecutor Investigates

Geneva Prosecutor Olivier Jornot and his deputy Yves Bertossa will lead an investigation into the planning of criminal acts, his office said in an e-mailed statement, without giving further details.

Switzerland’s Attorney-General said late Thursday it opened a criminal probe into a terrorist threat in Geneva in collaboration with authorities in the canton. The investigation is into unidentified persons on suspicion of supporting a criminal organization and association with the terrorist groups Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

“The main goal here is to prevent a terrorist event,” the Attorney-General ’s office said in the statement.

A total of 130 people died in Paris after three teams of men linked to the Islamic State blew themselves up outside a stadium, fired at restaurant and cafe goers, and shot members of the audience at the Bataclan concert hall on Nov. 13.

Geneva, where the UN’s European headquarters is based, shares a 100-kilometer (63-mile) border with France, which heightened security following the attacks in Paris. The canton will work more closely with French authorities to limit radicalization and avoid potential attacks on Swiss soil, Pierre Maudet, head of its cantonal government’s security and economy departments, said last month.

Syria Talks

Geneva’s airport hasn’t put any additional security measures in place, though officials will be meeting with the police Thursday afternoon, spokesman Bertrand Staempfli said by phone. The police have deployed more personnel at the airport, he said.

Representatives of the U.S., Russia and UN will engage in preparatory talks on Syria at an undisclosed location in Geneva on Friday, the UN said in a statement.

The U.N. “has increased security measures at the Palais des Nations and other premises during the past weeks and more visibly today,” Michele Zaccheo, a UN spokesman in Geneva said by e-mail.

— With assistance by Giles Broom, and Albertina Torsoli

(Updates with federal probe in seventh paragraph, UN comment in last.)
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