Rome responds to Paris shootings

Authorities on high alert for terrorism in Rome

Italy's interior minister Angelino Alfano convened an emergency anti-terrorism meeting to assess the terrorist threat to Rome following the attack on the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were shot dead by Islamic militants on 7 January.

Alfano said that authorities in Rome remain on the "highest alert" for terrorism, with increased security at key sites including the British, French and US embassies, international schools, national institutions, train stations, ports and airports.

Italian premier Matteo Renzi paid his condolonces to France's ambassador Catherine Colonna at Rome's French embassy in Piazza Farnese at 18.00. Renzi expressed his "horror and dismay" over the Paris attack, saying that "all of Europe has a duty to respond."

Ambassador Colonna thanked the crowd of about 300 people that gathered around the French embassy to show their support later that evening, as well as expressing her gratitude for the messages of support received from the public.

Rome mayor Ignazio Marino expressed the capital's "profound solidarity" with the city's 5,000-strong French community, saying: "We are confident that France, the cradle of civilisation and freedom, will be able to find the strength, together with Europe, to react to this cowardly act."

The president of the Italian Islamic association Unione delle Comunità e Organizzazioni Islamiche in Italia (UCOII), Izzedin Elzir, condemned the attack outright, as did Pope Francis who offered prayers for the victims and their families.

Those in Rome wishing to show their support can sign the books of condolence outside the French embassy, whose flags are flying at half mast.

Photo AFP, ANSA