Alleged architect of Paris attacks killed in raid

Paris prosecutor says Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in a police operation in Saint-Denis on Wednesday.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the key suspect behind the Paris attacks, was killed in a police raid early on Wednesday in the Saint Denis suburb, the Paris prosecutor said.

“Abdelhamid Abaaoud has just been formally identified … as having been killed during the raid” in a northern Paris suburb on Wednesday, Francois Molins said in a statement on Thursday.

The confirmation of his death followed fingerprint analysis, Molins added.

French police are still looking for another alleged attacker, Salah Abdeslam, who is on the run.

Abaaoud, a 27-year-old Belgian national of Moroccan origin, allegedly orchestrated the attacks claimed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Police originally thought he was in Syria, but their investigations led them to a house in the Paris suburb of Saint Denis and heavily armed officers stormed the building before dawn, triggering a massive firefight and multiple explosions.

Three police officials said a woman who died in the raid was Abaaoud’s cousin. One said Hasna Aitboulahcen, 26, is believed to have detonated a suicide vest after a brief conversation with police officers.

The official confirmed an audio recording, punctuated by gunshots, in which an officer asks: “Where is your boyfriend?” and she responded angrily: “He’s not my boyfriend!” Then loud bangs are heard.

The exact relationship between Abaaoud, whose body was reportedly riddled with wounds, and Aitboulahcen was not clear.

Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, said that Abaaoud had been involved in at least four previous foiled attacks, including an incident in august when  a gunman tried to kill passengers on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris.

“[The cases] would have all involved attacks perpetrated by European jihadists sent to France … Europe must coordinate itself and defend itself against this threat,” he said on Thursday, calling for a more effective arms strategy in the continent.  “The fight against terrorism is crucial.”

Elsewhere, Belgian police arrested nine people in Brussels – seven of them linked to French national stadium bomber Bilal Hadfi – during nine raids connected to the Paris attacks, AFP reported, quoting the federal prosecutor’s office.

Emergency powers already in place:
  • Administrative arrest possible without judiciary mandate
  • House arrest on direct order from the PM
  • Police search allowed all day and night (whereas normally it\’s forbidden at night until 6am)
  • Bars, music venues, gathering venues can be ordered closed by a state representative

PM warns of “chemical attack

Emergency powers allow police arrests without warrants and the ability to close public venues.

Manuel Valls, the prime minister, can order people deemed “threats to national security” to be held under house arrest, and have their passports or national identification cards seized.

“This bill will also encourage the closing of mosques if they become too radical,” Valls said. “This bill is the answer for the right of a free country facing chaos.”

Marches banned

The announcement came after Valls warned of a possible attack using “chemical or biological weapons”.

“We must not rule anything out, there is also the risk from chemical or biological weapons,” he said on Thursday, though he did not cite any specific intelligence on such a threat.

Emergency powers could include:
  • House arrest can be extended to any person deemed “a threat to national security”
  • Passports and identification cards can be seized, under what an adviser to the PM considers “prevention more than repression”
  • In case of violating house arrest, a possible sentence of three months in jail and $48,000 fine
  • The military can undertake criminal investigations
  • A curfew can be ordered by a state representative

Also on Thursday, the lower house of the French parliament voted to extend the state of emergency for three months, following advice from Francois Hollande, the French president, given in a speech to parliament earlier in the week.

Amid heightened security concerns, the French government has banned planned marches during the international climate talks to be held in Paris from November 29 to December 12.

Environmental activists have criticised the decision. The marches were expected to attract more than 200,000 people to put pressure on governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“The government can prohibit these demonstrations but it cannot stop the mobilisation and it won’t prevent us strengthening the climate movement. Our voices will not be silenced,” Nicolas Haeringer, a French campaigner with the group said in a statement.

About 118 world leaders are expected to attend the UN COP21 summit, which is meant to nail down a binding global deal to limit rising carbon emissions.






Source: Al Jazeera 

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