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For the last two nights there has been reports in Paris that mysterious drones have flown through the City of Light. Spokeswoman for the city prosecutor’s office Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre commented on Wednesday that the drones were seen near the Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde, the Les Invalides and the U.S. Embassy. She however could not give an explanation as to whether the drones were acting in coordination with one another or whether it was isolated people controlling each device. In all an estimated five different drones were spotted flying through Paris.
Paris is not completely inexperienced in such occurrences although it has never observed devices numbering so high in one night. To fly drones in these areas of Paris is prohibited unless authorization is obtained which it was not in this case. Police communicated on Tuesday that they were investigating the reports of drones flying around the U.S. Embassy and the Eiffel tower. These irregular incidences raise concerns with the recent terror attacks in the city.
In the past few weeks France has seen these mysterious drones not only in Paris but also near nuclear plants, military bases and the Presidential Palace. With the assault on Charlie Hedbo, the satirical newspaper attacked for printing images of the prophet Muhammad, French authorities are still on alert. After that violent event that left 20 people dead, these reports do not help to settle Paris’ feeling of uneasiness.
Although a drone was reported to have flown over the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. has not commented on the situation. The White House experienced a drone incident not long ago as well. A drone was found after it had crashed into a tree in the White House lawn. The operator, a drunk U.S. Government intelligence officer who was off-duty, later told authorities it was an accident.
France experienced an increase in drone activity last year and conducted an investigation. These drones were observed visiting over a dozen different nuclear plants. At that time France became concerned about their level of security at these locations. The current drone sightings have mostly been concentrated in Paris but at least one was seen near a nuclear plant causing some distress.
Officially, the French authorities stance is that the drones “present no threat” to Paris or its inhabitants. French authorities, when drafting legislation for these flying devices, consulted practiced drone operator Jean-Luc Fournier. With regards to the recent activity he has explained that typical drone operators discourage this type of “rogue” activity because it attracts negative attention to the industry. Fournier has also commented that these drone flights are ill-timed due to the recent terrorist attacks and that they are only increasing the tensions that are already so high. Basically he discourages practitioners from conducting these types of flights even if done for leisure.
The mysterious drones observed in Paris in the last couple of days have caused some to raise concerns. With the recent violence in Paris and the rather militant association drones have, there is reason to question why these devices are conducting maneuvers in prohibited airspace. Whether they are a government agency conducting security surveillance or citizens having a sporting good time, Paris is presently on edge and the drones are causing quite a fuss.
By Joel Wickwire