French celebrate Bastille Day amid heightened security

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PARIS (AP) — France is celebrating Bastille Day with a spectacular display of fighter jets — and with anti-terror forces marching in the yearly parade in Paris for the first time as the country's leadership tries to show its muscle against extremists abroad and at home.

The national holiday comes after the country was hit by terror attacks in January that killed 20 people, including the three attackers, and after an extremist beheaded his employer last month and caused an explosion that injured two people.

One spectator, Philippe Bastelisa, 55, who lives in Paris, said "it was really important that (security forces) participated in the parade, considering the situation right now and the drama of the beginning of the year."

Another, Katy-Pauli Giraud, 58, led a group of spectators from Calais to the festivities, and called it "great" that there was heightened protection against threats on such an important holiday.

"I'm not scared. I feel secure," she said.

French President Francois Hollande presided over the yearly parade on the Champs-Elysees, meeting and greeting members of the military. Alongside him was his guest of honor, Mexico's president Enrique Pena Nieto, whose government is smarting following the audacious prison break of a major drug lord.

See photos from this year's Bastille Day:

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French celebrate Bastille Day amid heightened security
Troops of the Barkhane unit take part in the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Alpha Jets of the French Air Force, La Patrouille de France, releasing trails of blue, white and red smoke in the colours of the French national flag fly over the Champs Elysees during the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Cadets of the Ecole nationale de police de Rouen-Oissel and Saint-Malo (Rouen-Oissel and Saint-Malo's National School of Police) march down the Champs Elysees during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Students of the Mexican military educational institution, the Heroic Military Academy, march down the Champs Elysees in front of (back-L-R) , French National Assembly President Claude Bartolone, Mexican First Lady Angelica Rivera, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, French President Francois Hollande, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, French Senate President Gerard Larcher, French Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and French Junior Minister for Veterans and Memory Jean-Marc Todeschini during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Four Mirage 2000D fly over the Champs-Elysees avenue during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
French President Francois Hollande (L) shakes hands with the public after the Bastille Day parade on the Place de la Concorde in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / POOL / PASCAL ROSSIGNOL (Photo credit should read PASCAL ROSSIGNOL/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on July 14, 2015 from a French Air Force C-135 FR refueling tanker aircraft over the Arc de Triomphe monument shows troops marching on the Champs-Elysees avenue during the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK PENNANT (Photo credit should read FRANCK PENNANT/AFP/Getty Images)
French troops of the Air Force Base 702 march down the Champs Elysees during the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican Gendarmes march down the Champs Elysees during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A paratrooper lands in front of (front row-L-R) , Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, French National Assembly President Claude Bartolone, Mexican First Lady Angelica Rivera, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, French President Francois Hollande, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, French Senate President Gerard Larcher, French Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and French Junior Minister for Veterans and Memory Jean-Marc Todeschini during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
French troops march down the Champs Elysees during the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Troops of the 3e regiment etranger d'infanterie (3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment) march down the Champs Elysee during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Troops of the 1er regiment d'infanterie de la garde republicaine (1st infantry regiment of the Republican Guard) march during the annual Bastille Day military parade in Paris on July 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Four Mirage 2000D fly over the Champs-Elysees avenue during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Students of the Ecole Polytechnique (Special military school of Polytechnique) march down the Champs Elysees during the annual Bastille Day military parade on July 14, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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The parade gave special recognition to the three armies, more than 10,000 soldiers, who participated in France's stepped-up security measures following the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. For the first time, accolades also went to emergency first-responders as well as several elite units of the national police force and gendarmerie specializing in counterterror and hostage kidnappings.

Hollande additionally commemorated the 70th anniversary of France's liberation from Nazi Germany, saluting members of France's Order of Liberation. The spectacle included nearly 100 military planes and helicopters.

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This story has been corrected to show that a total of 20 people died in the attacks in Paris in January.

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