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France girding for new terror threat after Mali operation, including from within

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A British military personnel fix a French army medical armoured personnel carrier inside a British C17 transport plane prior to take off at army base in Evreux, 90 kms (56 mls) north of Paris, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. British military equipment was readied for deployment in Mali on Monday as international intervention in the country increased following advances in the north by Islamic extremists with reported links to Al-Qaida. Two C-17 transport planes have arrived at the French military airbase at Evreux, bound for Mali. Two C-17 transport planes have arrived at the French military airbase at Evreux, bound for Mali. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) (The Associated Press)

France's top security official says the country is ready to prevent new terror attacks after its military operation to push back al-Qaida-linked insurgents grabbing territory in Mali.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday that France is well aware of the dangers of terror attacks both inside and outside France, but believed the threat posed by the advance of the militant Islamist fighters was far greater.

Declaring France had "opened the gates of hell" with its assault, the rebels from the Sahel desert region that includes Mali threatened retribution on Monday.

"France is watching individuals who want to go to Afghanistan, Syria and the Sahel. We're watching those who could return here," Valls told the French television network BFM. "We're facing an exterior enemy and an interior enemy."

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