Paris attacks prompt terror warning for Australians

Charlotte Chesnel-McKinnon.
Charlotte Chesnel-McKinnon.

TERROR attacks may be a new reality Australians must face following last week’s terrorist assault in Paris, according to Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter Terrorism and Stirling MHR Michael Keenan.

“Terrorist attacks, especially those conducted by lone wolves, can occur quickly and with little warning,” Mr Keenan said.

“Violent extremism is a challenge to the most fundamental Australian values.

“Extremist groups not only threaten the peace and cohesion of our society, but they are actively targeting young Australians for recruitment.”

Mr Keenan said the Australian Embassy would continue to provide consular assistance to Australians caught up in the attack.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is recommending that Australians reconsider their need to travel to Paris and the Ile de France area until the security situation is more certain,” he said.

Charlotte Chesnel-Mckinnon grew up in Paris and said she was unsure whether she would travel from Perth to Paris, as planned, next month.

Mrs Chesnel-Mckinnon, who recently became an Australian citizen, said she felt safe in Australia.

“I was feeling so sad for my country and I was crying but at the same time, I was feeling like it was a good idea for me to be here in Australia,” she said. “What they were living in Paris for three hours on Friday night is what refugees live 24 hours a day in their own country.”

She said she disagreed with French President Francois Hollande’s approach, who recently bombed Syria.

“By dropping more bombs, I think Francois Hollande is giving ISIS what they want – hate and war – and at the same time he is also killing civilians in Syria,” she said.

Mrs Chesnel-Mckinnon added she had often visited areas that were targeted in the attacks when she was home.

“The Bataclan and the restaurants they targeted aren’t in a tourist area; we used to go there all the time,” she said. “(Friends of friends) were killed at the concert, one (who survived) said he was hiding under dead bodies and is traumatised for life.”