Cyprus says security measures beefed up after Paris attacks

2015-11-14 21:26:19 GMT2015-11-15 05:26:19(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

NICOSIA, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus said on Saturday that security measures on the eastern Mediterranean island have been strengthened following the Paris terrorist attacks.

A statement by the Police said security forces have been placed on alert and competent authorities are in close touch with foreign embassies and international organizations.

No details were made public but it is thought that surveillance of foreign embassies has been enhanced.

The statement was issued after a meeting of top officers of the Police with other officials being present.

It said that the meeting reviewed the application of security measures decided in January this year after information had been received of possible terrorist attacks against foreign targets.

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said after a meeting at the Crisis Management Center at the ministry that additional measures were taken along the ceasefire line dividing the government controlled areas from the northern part of Cyprus.

The island is close to the fighting in Syria and Iraq and is easy to infiltrate through the northern part of Cyprus occupied by Turkish troops since 1974, in response to a coup by Greek army officers.

Foreign diplomats have said that sympathizers of the Islamic State from western countries use Cyprus as a stepping stone to the fighting areas in Syria and Iraq.

They arrive legally on international flights and they then slip over the dividing line stretching 180 km into the northern part of Cyprus, from where they travel to Turkey and then into Syria or Iraq.

Kasoulides said that 10 people traveling on European passports were deported because they were trying to use Cyprus to illegally travel to and from Syria.

He did not say when they were deported.

A 26-year old Lebanese man was jailed for six years in June after admitting guilty to several terrorism charges, including amassing 8.2 tons of ammonium nitrate, a potentially explosive substance, which would be used in bomb attacks against Israeli interests in Cyprus.

There have also been some botched up bomb attacks in the 1990s against the Israeli embassy which resulted in the death or injury of people in the street.

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