DEAUVILLE, France - Security was tightened on Wednesday around the elegant French seaside resort of Deauville, one day before the leaders of the world's richest countries hold their annual gathering here.
With 18 heads of state and government to be present, including US President Barack Obama, the French government had deployed over 12,000 policemen and troops to watch over the summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations.
France holds the current chair of the G8, which also includes Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia.
Leaders of several Arab and African countries were also invited to attend outreach sessions of the two-day summit, which would be focused on the recent political and social turmoil in the Middle East and Northern African regions.
It was the first major global conference since the killing of al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden, which was claimed to be a landmark victory for the US-led war against terrorism.
For fear of any revenge attack for bin Laden's death, the French government spared no effort in terms of security issues.
All roads leading to the venue were blocked, only people and cars with a special permit were allowed to enter a five-kilometer safety zone guarded by police, while military forces were deployed for a wider ten-kilometer area.
According to the French government, airspace of Deauville would be closed during the summit, which would last till Friday. More than 40 helicopters were ready for any emergency.
With heavy security measures as such, protesters were effectually prevented from nearing the site of the summit. Instead, they have planned demonstrations in Le Havre, another seaside town about 40 kilometers away from Deauville, as well as in Paris and Berlin.