France deploys 10 000 to catch accomplices

2015-01-12 17:04
Police forces gather in what has been a trying day for French police officers. (Thomas Samson, AFP)

Police forces gather in what has been a trying day for French police officers. (Thomas Samson, AFP)

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Paris - France ordered 10 000 troops into the streets on Monday to protect sensitive sites after three days of bloodshed as it hunted for the accomplices to the Islamic militants who left 17 people dead as they terrorised the nation.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the search is urgent because "the threat is still present" after the attacks that began on Wednesday with a massacre at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and ended when the three attackers were killed on Friday in two nearly simultaneous clashes with security forces.

"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.

It was not clear exactly how many accomplices French forces were hunting for in addition to Hayat Boumeddiene, the common-law wife of Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four hostages on Friday at a kosher grocery in Paris before being killed by security forces. Boumeddiene was reportedly in Syria with a male travel companion.

France's defence minister said the country is mobilising the 10 000 troops to protect its people. Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the deployment will be fully in place by Tuesday and will focus on the most sensitive locations. By midday on Monday, Paris's Marais - one of the country's oldest Jewish neighbourhoods as well as a major tourist site - was filled with police and soldiers.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said 4 700 security forces would be assigned to protect France's 717 Jewish schools.

Boumeddiene crossed into Syria on Thursday, the day after the Charlie Hebdo newspaper massacre that left 12 dead, and the same day her husband shot a French policewoman to death on the outskirts of Paris.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the state-run Anadolu Agency on Monday that Boumeddiene arrived in Turkey from Madrid on 2 January, ahead of the attacks in Paris. She stayed at a hotel in Istanbul with another person before crossing into Syria on Thursday, he said.

ISIS

Video emerged on Sunday of Coulibaly explaining how the attacks would unfold. French police want to find the person who shot and posted the video, which was edited after the attacks last week, including Coulibaly's kosher grocery hostage-taking on Friday that left four people dead, and after Coulibaly himself was killed.

Turkish intelligence tracked Boumeddiene from her arrival on 2 January. She and her travelling 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 Islamic State (ISIS)-controlled territory in Syria. Their 9 January return tickets to Madrid went unused.

Survivors say the Charlie Hebdo attackers, two brothers from Paris, claimed they were from al-Qaeda in Yemen, the group the US considers the most dangerous offshoot of that network. In the video, Coulibaly pledges allegiance to the ISIS group, which has taken over large sections of Iraq and Syria.

Ties among the three attackers date back to at least 2005, when Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi, 32, were jailed together. It later emerged that Cherif's older brother, 34-year-old Said, fought with or was trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Cherif was also convicted in 2008 along with several others of belonging to a network that sent jihadis to fight American forces in Iraq.

Read more on:    charlie hebdo  |  isis  |  france  |  paris shooting

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