Identities of Paris attackers emerge, suspects arrested in Belgium


PARIS: French police identified two nationals who blew themselves up in the coordinated attacks that hit Paris popular venues on Friday night, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said on Sunday.

Identified through fingerprints, the two men, aged 20 and 31, were suicide bombers at the Stade de France and at a bar in the 11th district, Molins said in a statement. They were living in Belgium, the statement added.

The prosecutor also put a request for Abdeslam Salah, a 26-year-old Belgian born man. He was believed to have rent a car in Brussels that may have been used by the attackers.

A third suicide bomber who died in the assault on the Bataclan concert hall was identified earlier as Ismael Mostefai, a 29-year French national known to intelligence services for having ties with extremists.

His father and brother were arrested earlier on Saturday for questioning, along with other people believed to be closes to him.

The almost simultaneous shootings and explosions at restaurants, Bataclan concert hall and the national stadium in Paris on Friday night killed 132 people. A Chinese woman was among the injured, the Chinese Embassy in France confirmed Sunday morning.

French President Francois Hollande said on Saturday that “the act of absolute barbarism” was “an act of war” organized from abroad by the Islamic State (IS) with internal complicities.

Later in the same day, Islamic State (IS) claimed, in an online statement, responsibility for the attacks as response to France’s offensive against IS fighters in Iraq and Syria.

“The attacks were prepared abroad. They mobilized a team in Belgium and benefited from complicity in France,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Sunday.

Most of the attackers were not known to French intelligence services, he added.

French investigators and Belgian police are working together to arrest accomplices or possible attackers who are still at large after two Belgium-registered cars were found in Paris.

Seven people had been arrested since Saturday in Belgium for their possible involvement in Friday’s shootings and suicide blasts.

“France and Belgium are united in the fight against terrorism,” Cazeneuve said, pledging “to act with efficacity” against terrorists.

Shortly after the simultaneous assaults, the French president declared a state of emergency across the country.

He also ordered increased security at home and at French embassies abroad.

“France will be ruthless against barbarians Daech. It will act with all the means within the law and on all fields, (and) in consultation with our allies,” he added.

A number of 1,500 military officers have been deployed in Paris to ensure the safety of public places mainly in the capital, according to government officials.

French government already deployed 10,000 soldiers across the country to ensure security, mainly of sensitive places, such as religious centers, after three men claiming ties with terrorist cells killed 17 people at separate shootings in Paris in January. PNA/Xinhua


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