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Terror attacks involving trucks are difficult to prevent: Experts

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PARIS: Even the best-laid security plans cannot protect an open-air event against the lethal potency of a truck attack like those carried out in Berlin and Nice, experts have said.

The sheer scope of places and public gatherings needing protection is such that the risk of someone using a moving vehicle as a weapon of terror will remain high for years, two senior security experts said.

On Monday, a lorry ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people in what German Chancellor Angela Merkel called a terrorist attack.

A senior anti-terrorism official in France told AFP: "The only events that can be protected are those that are planned in advance, where you can take measures like closing off streets or putting down concrete blocks."

Even then, security measures, including stationary devices such as the concrete blocks, can be circumvented.

It is not just public festivities that are at risk, said the official. He explained that a driver at the wheels of an out-of-control vehicle could cause mayhem on a city street too.

"There's nothing you can do... That's the problem with these attacks, which take the form of sudden strikes on soft targets that are easy to carry out," he said.

Mr Ludovic Guerineau, a former head of France's external intelligence service DGSE who heads operations at the private Anticip security company, said: "We need a serious risk assessment to start with, and that costs money."

He added that "areas that are easily accessible, natural environments" are especially vulnerable.

But radicals bent on sowing mayhem have learnt to innovate in the face of barricades and bollards.

"If they see a change in the measures taken to counter the risk, they too will change their methods," Mr Guerineau said.

"Unfortunately, we will have to learn to live with this risk." - AFP