Thursday, November 19, 2015

Chemical Warning As Police Await Siege IDs

Members of French special RAID forces gather on the scene in Saint-Denis

France's Prime Minister has warned of the risk of a chemical weapons attack as authorities try to identify the two people killed in the Paris apartment siege.

Manuel Valls was speaking as he presented a bill to extend the state of emergency declared after last Friday's attacks to three months.

"We must not rule anything out," he told the lower house of the French Parliament. "There is also the risk from chemical or biological weapons."

Mohammed K Bomb Maker
Mohammed K is wanted by Belgian police over the Paris attacks

Mr Valls also called on the European Union to urgently adopt measures to share airline passenger information.

"More than ever, it's time for Europe to adopt the text... to guarantee the traceability of movements, including within the union. It's a condition of our collective security," he said.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud
Paris Attacks: Most Wanted
There are reports one of those killed in Wednesday's raid on a flat in Saint Denis may have been Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the alleged mastermind of last week's massacre.

Investigators are also hoping to find out if Salah Abdeslam - one of the suspected gunmen - was in the building during the raid by 100 heavily armed police. Neither man was among the eight people arrested.

In another development, police in Belgium have said they are hunting for a man known as Mohammed K, who they believe may have built suicide vests for the attackers.

Two bodies were found in the rubble of the apartment complex after a blast thought to have been caused by woman detonating a suicide vest.

Police fired about 5,000 rounds during an hour-long exchange of gunfire with the suspected terrorist cell inside the apartment.

Police Storm Apartment In Paris

The raid was launched after a discarded mobile phone and tapped telephone conversations suggested Abaaoud may have been hiding there.

Five police officers suffered minor injuries during the operation and a seven-year-old police dog named Diesel was killed.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said afterwards police had "neutralised a new terrorist threat", and that "everything led us to believe that, considering their armaments, the structured organisation and their determination, they were ready to act".

The jihadis were set to carry out a second attack targeting Charles de Gaulle airport and the city's financial district La Defense, according to reports.

The neighbourhood where the siege took place is less than a mile from the Stade de France, one of the targets of Friday's shootings and suicide bombings, along with a concert hall, bars and restaurants.

France has stepped up its airstrikes on Raqqa, Islamic State's stronghold in Syria, after the militant group said it was behind the rampage in which 129 people were killed and 400 injured.

In other developments:
:: Authorities are carrying out raids in Brussels connected to Bilal Hadfi, one of the suicide bombers who blew themselves up outside the Stade de France.

:: In Marseille a Jewish teacher is recovering after being stabbed by three people claiming to be Islamic State supporters, according to prosecutors.

:: New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio has said there is no "specific and credible threat" against the city despite a video released by Islamic State suggesting it was a target for attacks.

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