French soldiers are the highest profile symbols of the fight against Islamic extremism — but along with other security forces patrolling French streets increasingly the main targets of attacks.

Their status as representatives, and defenders, of the state, has put security forces in the line of fire. But experts offer other reasons, too, for why attacks in France have recently focused on heavily armed protectors.

No civilians have been attacked this year — although France's interior minister says that intelligence services have foiled seven planned attacks.

Several experts say that Islamic radicals may seek extra media visibility presumably afforded by going after emblematic targets or be tempted by the wish to die as a "martyr."