Cannes Simulates Terror Attack Ahead of Film Festival

“You have to be prepared for what we consider a multi-terror event," said city security consultant Nitzan Nuriel.

With 200 extras on hand and fake car bombs going off, it could have been a film shoot. Instead, the city of Cannes Thursday morning conducted a simulation of coordinated terror attacks designed to test emergency responders ahead of the annual film festival next month.

The fake explosion rocked the city's Palais and was followed by four armed terrorists forcing their way up the Palais' grand entrance, where the red carpet will be rolled out in just three weeks. Local schools also participated, with security drills that would come into play in case of a terror attack. 

The extras were lying "injured" in red vests along the Croisette and splayed across the steps of the Palais.

The simulations were the first of their kind, put in place to test out the city's new security protocols following the Charlie Hebdo attacks last January and the Le Bataclan attacks in November in Paris.

"You have to be prepared for what we consider a multi-terror event, not only in one place and not only in one hour — in a few places over a few hours," security consultant Nitzan Nuriel, who was hired by the city to take part in a city security audit, told The Hollywood Reporter.

The simulation involved not only local police, but the national police and gendarmerie, as well as firefighters, EMTs, hospital workers and doctors, who would be first responders in this type of attack. Video of the simulation later surfaced online and can be seen below.

"With [multiple locations], most of the security forces will be very, very busy and need to go from one place to another and will probably not be able to take care of all the people's immediate needs," Nuriel said.

"One has to be prepared in case the worst occurs," Mayor David Lisnard told THR.

"Therefore, we hold these real-life rehearsals in case of attacks — in the hotels, in the Palais, in the schools — but it's above all a simulation, a test run, in case of necessity."

Lisnard initiated a review of the city's security protocol last November and brought on a panel to assess the city's security, from city properties and people, to cyber security. "It's rather innovative for a city," he added.

The simulation was initiated by the Interior Ministry. Security staff will review Thursday's exercise and decide if other protocols need to be introduced ahead of the festival, when more than 200,000 people descend on the tiny town.

The intent is "to be immediately on the ground and know what to do," said Nuriel. "The most important thing is to make sure that we have the know-how, the capability, and are fully trained to take the responsibility if something should happen."

Since last January's Charlie Hebdo attacks, the country has been operating under the Vigipirate protocol, a nationwide security alert that has made bag checks and metal detectors mandatory at movie theaters, among other things. 

As part of this new protocol, the Palais moved the perimeter away from the building and blocked the immediate entrance from the doors for major events. All entrants are subject to bag checks and wanding by hand-held metal detectors before being allowed through metal gates.

No specific threats to Cannes or the festival are known.