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EU opens counter-terrorism centre to tackle 'current threat'

The European Union has launched a new law enforcement centre to co-ordinate the fight against violent extremism, saying Europe faces the most significant terrorist threat in more than 10 years.

The European Counter Terrorism Centre in The Hague, Netherlands, was officially opened as a part of Europol, the EU's agency for law enforcement co-operation.

Europol director Rob Wainwright said the unit will be staffed by 40-50 experts in counter-terrorism and deal in intelligence-sharing, tracking foreign fighters and sources of illegal financing and firearms, and assisting EU countries in counter-terrorism investigations.

More than 5,000 EU nationals have been radicalised by fighting with Muslim extremists in Iraq and Syria and many have returned home, Mr Wainwright said.

"The current threat demands a strong and ambitious response from the EU," said Europol's chief.

In a report coinciding with the official opening of the centre, Europol said: "There is every reason to expect that IS (Islamic State), IS-inspired terrorists or another religiously inspired terrorist group will undertake a terrorist attack somewhere in Europe again, but particularly in France, intended to cause mass casualties among the civilian population.

"This is in addition to the threat of lone-actor attacks, which has not diminished."

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