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by Sapa-AFP Thursday, Oct. 18, 2001 at 2:56 PM

New fashion trend sweeps Paris.

Demand for gas masks has

soared in France since the

terrorist attacks in the United

States and the subsequent strikes

on Afghanistan, with several

military surplus stores in the

capital reporting record sales. "We

have been selling 70 to 80 gas

masks a week since the attacks,

to people of all ages and walks of

life," said a salesman who refused

to give his name at Doursoux, a

surplus store in Paris. "We've

never seen anything like it.

Usually we sell one mask a

month." He said some of his

customers were purchasing the

masks for their entire family while

others were sending them to

relatives or friends in New York,

where they feared there might be a

shortage. Sales have also jumped

at Outremer, another store that

sells military equipment in the

capital. "We've sold dozens of

masks since the attacks on the

United States mainly to elderly

people who need to feel

reassured," said sales clerk Herve

Vernier. The gas masks at both

stores sell for an average price of

1 200 francs (2). Vernier

admitted that most of his

customers probably wouldn't know

how to properly use the masks.

"They are unlikely to ever use

them," he said. "The masks are

probably left near their beds and

they allow them to sleep better at

night." - Sapa-AFP

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