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Phone alert surprises Parisians ahead of Olympics

Kremlin slams Macron claims Russia trying to disrupt Olympics
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Sudden emergency alerts about this summer’s Paris Olympics flashed up on mobile phones across the French capital on Monday night, sparking alarm and surprise on social media and disrupting a parliament speech by the interior minister.

The message from the government — entitled “Extremely serious alert” and accompanied by a loud ringing tone, even on phones in silent mode — popped up on devices at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT).

“IMPORTANT: message from the interior ministry concerning the security perimeter for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games,” the alert said.

It urged “residents, employees, shopkeepers, hotel and restaurant guests” to connect to a platform and obtain a QR code that would allow them to access the secured area.

It said the security measures would be in place from July 18 to July 26 — the day the Games are due to start.

The alert was sent out during peak evening hours “to reach as many people as possible”, officials said.

It even disrupted a verbal joust in parliament between Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and members of the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party.

The Paris Games are due to kick off on July 26 with an unprecedented opening ceremony on the River Seine that will require one of the biggest security operations in French history.

“This is not a test,” the interior ministry said.

“An exceptional event requires exceptional action.”

Darmanin, who is in charge of the Olympics security operation, was interrupted during a speech when his phone and others in parliament all started pinging at once.

The minister tried to switch off his phone and resume his speech amid laughter from the opposition, forcing the speaker of parliament, Yael Braun-Pivet, to intervene.

“There is an alert and nobody can hear you!” she said.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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