Europe tightens security for Champions League games after ISIS threats
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Europe tightens security for Champions League games after ISIS threats

LONDON — France and Spain will step up security ahead of the European Champions League quarterfinals being held in Madrid and Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, top government officials said, citing threats from the Islamic State group to the showpiece soccer events.

British police said they were aware of reports of such threats and had a robust policing plan in place ahead of Tuesday night’s game in London between English Premier League leaders Arsenal and German giants Bayern Munich.

Paris Saint-Germain is due to play Barcelona in Paris on Wednesday night.

“Regarding the game that will take place in the Paris region, the head of police has considerably strengthened security,” French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters at a media event about Olympic Games security.

“We have seen, among other things, a communication from the Islamic State that particularly targets stadiums. It is not new,” he added.

ISIS was alleged to have threatened four venues for this week’s Champions League matches, including the one at the Parc des Princes in Paris and two in Madrid hosted by Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, who face Manchester City of England and Borussia Dortmund of Germany respectively.

London police’s deputy assistant commissioner, Ade Adelekan, said in a statement: “We’re aware of online and media reports in relation to calls to target matches across Europe and here in London.

“However, I want to reassure the public that we have a robust policing plan in place for tonight’s match and we continue to work closely alongside the club’s security team to ensure that the match passes peacefully.”

Spanish police forces will deploy 2,000 extra officers to boost security in the capital for its two games, government spokesperson Pilar Alegria told reporters Tuesday.

She said the terrorism alert level had been raised to 4 on a scale of 5.

UEFA, soccer’s European governing body, said it was “aware of alleged terrorist threats made towards this week’s UEFA Champions League matches and is closely liaising with the authorities at the respective venues.”

It added that “all matches are planned to go ahead as scheduled with appropriate security arrangements in place.”

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the recent attack on a Moscow concert hall, which killed at least 143 people.

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