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French PM calls for a deep change in ‘security culture’

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (L) and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (R) (AFP Photo)

Prime Minister Manuel Valls says France needs to overhaul its security culture amid an escalating scandal over the government's handling of a recent deadly attack in Nice. 

The French government has been hit by a fresh crisis after a senior policewoman accused it of covering up its mishandling of security at the Nice fireworks display where 84 people were killed in an attack. 

"We need a deep change in our security culture," Valls told BFM television on Monday.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has been the lightning rod for criticism over alleged security failures. His account of police deployments on the night of July 14 celebrations has faced questions.  

On July 14, a truck driver plowed through a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, killing 84 people and wounding 200 others. The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the interview, Valls made efforts to defend the interior minister, claiming that the accusations were an effort by the conservative opposition to "destabilize the government."

Officer Sandra Bertin, who is in charge of Nice's CCTV control room, has said that an unnamed Interior Ministry official contacted her after the attack and “harassed” her for one hour.

The official allegedly demanded that she make changes in her report for the night of the attack, telling her to specifically cite the presence of both local and national police at the event where the attack took place.

"He ordered me to put in (the report) the specific positions of the national police which I had not seen on the screen" of the security cameras, she explained.

Police officer Sandra Bertin gives a press conference on July 24, 2015, in Nice. (AFP Photo)

Cazeneuve rejected Bertin's "grave accusations" as libel, saying he would have her sued for defamatory remarks.

The minister is facing rising criticism for not being competent enough to prevent the Nice attack despite high alert in the country.

France is in a state of emergency following Daesh-orchestrated attacks in Paris in November last year which left 137 dead and over 300 others injured.

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