15 Nov 2015

NZ security unchanged in wake of attacks

9:26 pm on 15 November 2015

New Zealand's security threat level remains low in the wake of the terror attacks in France.

Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Chris Finlayson said the risk for domestic terrorism had been reviewed, and was unchanged with no extra security measures.

However, he said there were still up to 40 people on the government's watch list.

"We have been asked about people of security concern - the domestic threat level remains low.

"There are still 30 to 40 on the watch list, but as the director of security said recently, the security risk is slightly higher than it was 12 months ago."

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Friday night's wave of attacks which killed 129 people and injured 352 at a concert hall, bars and restaurants in Paris and near the Stade de France at Saint-Denis to the north of the city.

SIS Minister Chris Finlayson and Prime Minister John Key yesterday.

Acting minister of foreign affairs Chris Finlayson and Prime Minister John Key Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

President Francois Hollande said it amounted to an act of war against France, and France would pursue its intervention in Syria with the aim of striking Islamic State.

France, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium have all tightened security following the attacks.

Three men have been arrested in Belgium, while seven attackers are confirmed killed.

Meanwhile, Greek government sources said a second suspect among the gunmen was likely to have entered Europe through Greece.

Prime minister John Key said more information was required before it could be said that any of the attackers entered France as refugees.

In any event that wouldn't necessarily affect New Zealand's refugee policy, he said.

"The refugees we take are heavily vetted through the UNHCR programme and we have the authority to reject someone if we generally don't believe they are a refugee, even if they have been approved with refugee status by the United Nations.

"I'm confident the people we're taking, as best as we possibly can with very thorough checking, are genuine refugees."

No New Zealanders have died or been injured in the terror attacks in Paris and the government continues to advise against all non-essential travel to France until the security situation stabilisers.

French ambassador to New Zealand Florence Jeanblanc-Risler said France and other countries were faced with a new type of threat.

"Unfortunately no country is immune of this type of attack," she said.

"France and New Zealand fought together during World War One and World War Two, and we are also at war again, but it's a different war."

Security analyst Dr Paul Buchanan said New Zealand should remain vigilant, but it wasn't necessary to upgrade the country's security.

Many of the circumstances around the attacks did not apply to New Zealand.

"We're not in the same position that either the Russians or the French are when it comes to the threat of Islamic terrorism.

"Given the fact the attacks in Paris were very sophisticated, and they were able to engage in complete operational secrecy in the planning and preparation of these attacks - I don't think we are in the same situation."

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also said there was no need to change his country's alert level, and no reason to believe Australia was unsafe.

"We cannot allow our national security or our national security policies to be dictated to by terrorists ... We have strong and capable security services.

"They keep us safe at home and, so far as they can, when we are abroad. There's no reason to be complacent, but we have every reason to be assured that our nation is safe."

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