France has extended the highest security alert level already in place in greater Paris to the northern Picardy region where police have zoned in on two suspects in the magazine massacre.
“The prime minister has decided to extend the attack alert level to Picardy,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ office said on Thursday afternoon
The security step-up came after two brothers sought for the attack against the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were spotted in the region, resulting in a massive deployment of security forces.
Britain, meanwhile, has stepped up security at ports serving France following the attack in Paris, as the MI5 intelligence agency offered French counterparts its “full support”.
The terror threat level in Britain remains at “severe” and officials said the measures were a precautionary measure following the slaying of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo.
In rare public comments, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker said the attack was a “terrible reminder” of the threat facing Western nations.
He confirmed the national spy agency was offering its French colleagues their “full support as they respond”.
“It is too early for us to come to judgments about the precise details or origin of the attack but it is a terrible reminder of the intentions of those who wish us harm,” Parker said.
Home Secretary Theresa May, the interior minister, held a meeting of the COBRA crisis committee to consider Britain’s response to the attacks and its own preparedness for a similar assault.
She said the government had offered France “every assistance necessary”.
Searches have been stepped up on cars and trucks crossing the English Channel to British ports, while armed patrols have increased at the Eurostar terminal at London’s St Pancras station.