6 Paris terror suspects may still be at large

2015-01-13 09:13
French soldiers patrol around the Sacre Coeur basilica at Montmartre district, in Paris. (Jacques Brinon, AP)

French soldiers patrol around the Sacre Coeur basilica at Montmartre district, in Paris. (Jacques Brinon, AP)

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Paris - As many as six members of a terrorist cell involved in the Paris attacks may still be at large, including a man who was seen driving a car registered to the widow of one of the slain gunmen, police officials said on Monday.

Two French police officials told The Associated Press that authorities were searching the Paris area for the Mini Cooper registered to Hayat Boumeddiene, the widow of Amedy Coulibaly. She is now in Syria, according to Turkish officials.

The French police officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to discuss details of the investigation with the news media.

France deployed 10 000 troops to protect sensitive sites — including Jewish schools and neighbourhoods — in the wake of the attacks that killed 17 people last week. Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, as well as Coulibaly, their friend who claimed ties to Islamic extremists in the Middle East, died on Friday in clashes with police.

Prime minister Manuel Valls said the manhunt is urgent because "the threat is still present" after the attacks that began on Wednesday with 12 people killed at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. A policewoman was killed on Thursday, and four people were slain at a kosher supermarket on Friday before the gunmen were killed by police in two nearly simultaneous clashes with security forces around Paris.

Paris' Marais district — one of the country's oldest Jewish neighbourhoods — was filled with police and soldiers by midday Monday. About 4 700 of the security forces would be assigned to protect France's 717 Jewish schools, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

"A little girl was telling me earlier that she wanted to live in peace and learn in peace in her school," Cazeneuve as on a visit to a Paris Jewish classroom, where the walls were covered with children's drawings of smiling faces.

"That's what the government, that's what the Republic, owes to all the children in France: security in all schools, especially in the schools that could be threatened," he added.

The children listened and waved both Israeli and French flags.

Defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the nationwide deployment of troops would be completed by Tuesday and would focus on the most sensitive locations.

"The work on these attacks, on these terrorist and barbaric acts continues ... because we consider that there are most probably some possible accomplices," Valls told BFM television.

French police have said the Charlie Hebdo attacks were carried out by three people, but only two of those attackers — Cherif and Said Kouachi — have been identified by authorities.

Video emerged Sunday of Coulibaly explaining how the attacks in Paris would unfold. French police want to find the person or persons who shot and posted the video, which was edited after Friday's attacks.

Boumeddiene was seen traveling through Turkey with a male companion before reportedly arriving in Syria with him on 8 January — the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack and the same day Coulibaly began his murderous spree by killing the policewoman.

Security camera video footage shown on Monday by Turkey's Haberturk newspaper showed Boumeddiene arriving at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport on 2 January. A high ranking Turkish official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the woman on the video was Boumeddiene.

Turkish intelligence then tracked Boumeddiene from her arrival.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the state-run Anadolu Agency that she had stayed at a hotel in Istanbul with another person before crossing into Syria on Thursday. She and her traveling companion, a 23-year-old man, toured Istanbul, then left 4 January for a town near the Turkish border, according to a Turkish intelligence official who was not authorised to speak on the record.

Her last phone signal was on 8 January from the border town of Akcakale, where she crossed over apparently into ISIS-controlled territory in Syria, the official said. Their 9 January return plane tickets to Madrid went unused.

Read more on:    france  |  paris shooting

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