Paris attacks: France to hold emergency meeting to avert future terror attacks

World leaders including David Cameron, Angela Merkel and Matteo Renzi will join in a unity rally in central Paris tomorrow

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The Independent Online

Key members of the French government will meet today to decide on new measures aimed at thwarting a repeat of the attacks in Paris that culminated in a massacre of 12 people at a satirical newspaper, and a supermarket bloodbath that left four hostages dead.

World leaders have telephoned President Francois Hollande to express their personal sympathies. Germany's Angela Merkel, Britain's David Cameron as well as Italy's Matteo Renzi, and Spain's Mariano Rajoy have agreed to join in a unity rally in central Paris, to take place tomorrow.

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With explosions and gunfire, security forces Friday ended the three days of terror, killing the two al-Qaeda-linked brothers who staged a murderous rampage at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and an accomplice who seized hostages at a kosher supermarket to try to help the brothers escape.

Twenty people are dead, including the three gunmen. A fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene — the common law wife of the market attacker — is still at large and believed to be armed.

Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen said it directed the attack against the publication Charlie Hebdo to avenge the honor of the Prophet Muhammad, a frequent target of the weekly's satire.

The brothers were not unknown to authorities: One had a terrorism-related conviction for ties to a network sending fighters to battle American forces in Iraq, and both were on the US no-fly list, according to a US official.

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Hollande urged his nation to remain united and vigilant, and the city shut down a central Jewish neighborhood following fears of more violence.

"The threats facing France are not finished," Hollande said. "We are a free people who don't cave to pressure."

A member of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula gave a statement in English to The Associated Press saying the group's leadership "directed the operations and they have chosen their target carefully."

 

The attack was in line with warnings from the late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to the West about "the consequences of the persistence in the blasphemy against Muslim sanctities," the member said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the group's regulations do not permit him to give his name.

Links have emerged between the attackers in that Boumeddiene and the companion of one of the Kouachi brothers had exchanged about 500 phone calls prior to the attacks, Molins said.

He added that several people have been given preliminary charges in the investigation. They include relatives of the three gunmen.

Both officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of an ongoing investigation into Kouachi's stay in Yemen.

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Both brothers were also on the US no-fly list, a senior US counterterrorism official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorised to discuss foreign intelligence publicly.

The attacks in France as well as a hostage siege last month in Sydney and the October killing of a solder near Canada's parliament prompted the US State Department to issue a global travel warning for Americans. It also cites an increased risk of reprisals against US and Western targets for the US-led intervention against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

Authorities around Europe have warned of the threat posed by the return of Western jihadis trained in warfare. France counts at least 1,200 citizens in the war zone in Syria — headed there, returned or dead. Both the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda have threatened France, home to Western Europe's largest Muslim population.

The publication Charlie Hebdo had long drawn threats for its depictions of Islam, although it also lampooned other religions and political figures. It had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, and a sketch of Islamic State's leader was the last tweet sent by the irreverent newspaper minutes before the attack.

Eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor were killed in the newspaper attack, including the paper's editor. Charlie Hebdo plans a special edition next week, produced in the offices of another paper.

AP

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