Europe

French minister inspects stepped-up security at Lourdes

France's interior minister has inspected the more than 500 security forces deployed at the pilgrimage site of Lourdes to guard some 20,000 faithful expected for next week's Feast of the Assumption.

France is under an "exceptionally high" terrorist threat.

Monday is the biggest day of the year for the Catholic shrine reputed to heal the sick, drawing pilgrims from around the world to the town in southwest France. The outdoor Mass presents a special security challenge since some pilgrims are in wheelchairs and on stretchers, hoping for a miracle cure.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazenueve says Saturday that nearly 300 extra forces were brought in. Pilgrims will be patted down by security at entry points. State officials say bomb squads and canine units will be in place.