Defiant Parisians honour the dead

2015-11-21 17:28
People pay respect to the victims of the terrorist attacks, near the Cosa Nostra restaurant, in Paris. (Thibault Camus, AP)

People pay respect to the victims of the terrorist attacks, near the Cosa Nostra restaurant, in Paris. (Thibault Camus, AP)

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Paris - A week after the deadliest attacks on France in decades, shell-shocked Parisians honoured the 130 victims with candles and songs on Friday, knowing that at least one suspect is still at large and fearing that other militants could be slipping through Europe's porous borders.

Having established how the attacks against a soccer stadium, sidewalk cafés and a rock concert were carried out, investigators were still piecing together details on the assailants and how they converged in the French capital.

Prosecutors said that they had determined through fingerprint checks that two of the seven attackers who died in the bloodshed had entered Europe through Greece on October 3.

Previously they had said only one attacker had been registered in Greece, an entry point for many of the hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking asylum in Europe. That man carried a Syrian passport naming him as Ahmad Al-Mohammad, though it's unclear whether it was authentic.

The five other attackers who died had links to France and Belgium. One of the seven dead has not been identified, while a manhunt is underway for one suspect who escaped, Salah Abdeslam, 26. French police stopped Abdeslam the morning after Friday's attacks at the Belgian border but then let him go.

Ringleader killed

French police official Jean-Marc Falcone, speaking on France-Info radio, said he was unable to say if Abdeslam, whose brother, Brahim, blew himself up in the attacks, could be back on French territory.

The suspected ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed in a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday on an apartment in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis, along with Hasna Aitboulahcen, a 26-year-old woman who said she was his cousin. Prosecutors said that a third person was killed in the raid but did not release the identity.

They also said Aitboulahcen had not blown herself up with a suicide vest, as initially believed, which suggests the body parts collected after the raid belonged to the third, unidentified, person.

Meanwhile in Brussels, European interior and justice ministers vowed to tighten border controls to make it easier to track the movements of jihadis with European passports traveling to and from warzones in Syria.

"We must move swiftly and with force," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. "Europe owes it to all victims of terrorism and those who are close to them."

Cazeneuve said the 28-nation bloc must move forward on a long-delayed system for collecting and exchanging airline passenger information, data he said is vital "for tracing the return of foreign fighters" from Syria and Iraq.

Highlighting how easily some Islamic militants seem to be able to move in and out of Europe, French officials say they don't know when and how Abaaoud, a 28-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent, entered France. They had believed he was in Syria until receiving a tipoff Monday that he was in France.

Abaaoud was wanted in Belgium where he had been convicted in absentia of recruiting foreign fighters for the Islamic State group and kidnapping his brother, who he persuaded to join him in Syria at age 13.

Read more on:    france  |  paris under attack

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