March 4, 2015 / 8:45 AM / 3 years ago

French police to hunt operators of mystery Paris drones

PARIS (Reuters) - French police will track down and arrest the operators of drone aircraft seen flying illegally on several nights over sensitive sites in Paris and above nuclear power plants, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Police received at least 10 reports of drone flights late on Tuesday, including one in eastern Paris where witnesses saw three men retrieve the aircraft and drive off in a black car before police could arrest them, a police source said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told parliament that some 60 drone flights over Paris and over nuclear power plants had been reported since Oct. 5.

Flights over Paris without authorization from aviation authorities are illegal, as is the use of airspace up to 1,000 meters above a nuclear site.

“We need to be very vigilant on this, we’re going to have to be extremely careful,” government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told France Info radio, referring to the drones. “The day that we find the people who are doing this, there will be penalties ... We will find them, sooner or later.”

France is still on high alert following a series of attacks in January that killed 20 people, including three attackers.

Interior Minister Cazeneuve also told parliament he wanted to equip police with “new legal tools” to crack down on the illegal use of drones in sensitive areas.

Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur and Nicolas Bertin; Editing by Toby Chopra

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