السبت , يونيو 6 2020

Hunt for French terror accomplices



French special forces raid

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Dramatic footage shows special forces approaching the building in which the Kouachis were holed up

Police in France are hunting for any accomplices of the gunmen who killed 17 people in two days of terror attacks.

One key figure is Hayat Boumeddiene, the partner of Amedy Coulibaly. He was killed when police stormed a kosher supermarket in Paris.

She was said to be with Coulibaly when a policewoman was killed and is described as “armed and dangerous”.

Two gunmen who carried out Wednesday’s deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine were killed by police.

President Francois Hollande praised the police but also warned of further threats.

He thanked the security services for their “bravery and efficiency”, saying the week’s violence was “a tragedy for the nation”.

Mr Hollande said the danger was not over yet. “We have to be vigilant. I also ask you to be united – it’s our best weapon,” he said in a televised address on Friday night.



Francois Hollande

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President Hollande called on the French people to remain vigilant

Crossbow

Francois Molins, the chief prosecutor in France, said authorities were urgently focusing on Boumeddiene, who is suspected of being with Coulibaly, 32, when the policewoman was killed in Paris on Thursday.

Both vanished after the shooting, but Coulibaly reappeared on Friday when he took several people hostage at the Hypercasher supermarket near Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris.



France attacks: Local residents' reaction

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Local residents from Porte de Vincennes in Paris tell the BBC about life in a “working melting pot” at the end of a deadly siege

Four shoppers were killed in the attack on the Jewish store, which took place hours before the Sabbath.

French newspaper Le Monde published a series of photographs said to show Coulibaly with Boumeddiene in 2010. In one, the 26-year-old woman is pictured pointing a crossbow at the camera while wearing a full-face veil, which is banned in France.

Mr Molins said the investigation would “focus on determining who their accomplices were, how these criminal actions were financed, and all the instruction and help they may have benefited from whether in France, from overseas”.

He said 16 people had been detained for questioning, including the wife of one of the Kouachi brothers and other members of their family.

French government ministers are meeting on Saturday morning to plan their next steps.

A number of world leaders have called Mr Hollande to express support.

Hayat Boumeddiene, left, and Amedy Coulibaly in images released by police during the kosher supermarket siege in Paris - 9 January 2015Police are still searching for Hayat Boumeddiene, left, who is said to be gunman Amedy Coulibaly’s partner

Watch-lists

The first siege on Friday – in Dammartin-en-Goele, 35km (22 miles) north of Paris – involved two brothers who had attacked the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine on Wednesday.

Cherif and Said Kouachi were shot dead as they came out of a warehouse building firing at police. Two officers were injured.

One hostage had earlier been released and a second employee, who was hiding in the building’s cafeteria, was freed by police after the shooting ended.

Police shortly afterwards launched an assault on the supermarket in Paris, killing Coulibaly and rescuing 15 hostages. They found the bodies of four hostages believed to have been killed before the assault.

Police officers on guard at Porte de Vincennes in Paris, France - 9 January 2015Police in France remain on high alert amid the threat of further violent attacks by extremists

A screengrab taken from an AFP TV video shows a general view of members of the French police special forces launching the assault at a kosher grocery store in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, on January 9, 2015 The moment when police stormed a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris to end a hostage siege on Friday

Prosecutors said the two brothers in Dammartin had a rocket launcher primed and ready to fire, while the supermarket in Paris had been booby-trapped with explosives.

Officials have said they were aware of Coulibaly and the two brothers. Said Kouachi was known to have travelled to Yemen in 2011.

Both brothers are understood to have been on UK and US watch-lists.



Francois Molins

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Cherif Kouachi had met terrorists in Yemen, according to French authorities

While holed up in the warehouse north of Paris, Cherif Kouachi phoned a French TV news network and told them he was acting on behalf of the Yemen branch of al-Qaeda (AQAP).

The extremist group released an audio message late on Friday praising the attacks but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

AQAP senior leader Sheikh Harith al-Nadhari said “some in France have misbehaved with the prophets of God,” adding that “God’s faithful soldiers” had taught them “the limits of freedom of speech”.

Earlier on Friday, a man claiming to be Coulibaly told French TV station BFMTV that he was a member of the Islamic State militant group, and that he had “co-ordinated” his attack with the Kouachi brothers.

Mr Molins confirmed that Coulibaly knew one of the brothers and their respective partners had spoken on the phone more than 500 times.

During Friday’s siege, Coulibaly had threatened to kill his captives if police attempted to capture the brothers, he added.

‘Mistakes made’

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls admitted there had been a “clear failing” in French intelligence.

“If 17 people die, this means mistakes have been made,” he said, including those killed in attacks on Wednesday and Thursday in the toll.

The violence started on Wednesday when the Kouachi brothers killed 12 people and injured 11 in an attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo.



President Obama speaking about Paris attacks while in Tennessee

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Obama: “The US stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow”

The unprecedented attack shocked France and there has been an outpouring of sympathy and solidarity worldwide.

The French ministers’ meeting on Saturday will make preparations for a huge unity rally due to take place in the heart of Paris on Sunday.

Among those attending will be UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

US President Barack Obama said he had directed his intelligence agencies to help France deal with any further threats.

Meanwhile, the US state department has updated its travel guidance, warning Americans travelling abroad to maintain a high level of vigilance.

Map

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How Friday unfolded (all times GMT)

07:00 – The Kouachi brothers hijack a car in Montagny-Sainte-Felicite, north of Paris. They are said to be carrying weapons including a rocket launcher.

08:30 – Pursued along the N2 road towards Paris, they exchange fire with police and take refuge in a printing works in Dammartin-en-Goele. They take the manager hostage.

10:30 – The manager is released, but another employee remains in the building.

12:15 – A man identified as Amedy Coulibaly takes several people hostage at a supermarket near Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris. Coulibaly is also suspected of having shot dead a policewoman on Thursday.

16:00 – The brothers emerge in Dammartin, opening fire on police. Both men are killed. The trapped employee is released and tells police he had been hiding on the second floor, unknown to the gunmen.

16:15 – Security forces move into the supermarket in Paris and kill Coulibaly. It emerges that four hostages at the supermarket have been killed, but 15 others are freed.

18:55 – Addressing the nation, President Hollande calls for France to “remain vigilant” and praises the “courage, bravery and efficiency” of the police forces.

What we know so far

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