France announced an unprecedented deployment of troops and police Monday in the wake of last week’s deadly terrorist attacks. Investigators probing a hostage siege at a Paris kosher store say the gunman has been linked with a spate of other attacks.
France will have more than 10,000 soldiers mobilised on home soil by Tuesday, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced Monday, amid heightened efforts to beef up security and track down possible accomplices in the wake of the deadliest terrorist attacks in France in half a century.
AQIM threatens 'more attacks'
The Islamist group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) warned on Monday that France would face more attacks if it persisted in its policy of being "hostile to Islam".
"France is paying the price for its aggression against Muslims and its hostile policy to Islam," said AQIM in a message posted on Islamist websites, after three attacks last week in Paris, where 17 people were killed by jihadists.
Earlier, the Interior Ministry said nearly 5,000 police officers would be deployed to guard Jewish schools and places of worship.
The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said he was putting in place a "powerful and durable" system of protection for France's Jewish community, the largest in Europe.
The move follows Friday’s bloody hostage siege at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris in which four people were killed, along with the gunman, identified as 32-year-old Amedy Coulibaly.
Investigators have since linked Coulibaly, who was shot dead in a gunfight with police, with a spate of other attacks around Paris. His DNA has been identified at the sight of Thursday's fatal shooting of a police officer in the southern Paris suburb of Montrouge.
A gun he used in the supermarket attack has also been tied to bullets that seriously injured a jogger Wednesday night in Fontenay-aux-Roses, the Parisian suburb where Coulibaly resided.
It is now believed that Coulibaly, a petty criminal turned Islamist extremist, may also be connected to a booby-trapped car that exploded Thursday evening in another suburb south of Paris.
‘If you attack the caliphate, we will attack you’
Responsibility for that blast was claimed in an Internet video posted Sunday morning and then rapidly removed which attributed the kosher supermarket attack, the Montrouge police murder and the car explosion to Coulibaly.
Apparently filmed over several days and edited after the attacks in France, the footage shows Coulibaly displaying an arsenal of weapons and, in broken Arabic, swearing allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) organisation.
“If you attack the caliphate we will attack you,” says the man in the video, referring to the territory claimed by IS militants in Syria and Iraq.
Coulibaly’s former lawyer Damien Brosset confirmed that the man in the video was indeed the 32-year-old gunman, who also claims he coordinated his actions with the perpetrators of Wednesday’s deadly attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
"The brothers of our team, they did Charlie Hebdo," he says, referring to Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, who were killed in a gunfight with police in northeast Paris on Friday just as police stormed the kosher supermarket where Coulibaly had taken hostages.
Coulibaly made a similar declaration in a telephone interview with BFMTV as he was holding hostages in the eastern Paris supermarket.
Hunt for accomplices
Late on Saturday, investigators discovered Coulibaly’s presumed hide-out in the southern Paris suburb of Gentilly. They turned up four Tokarev pistols, a revolver, ammunition, mobile phones, tear gas, police lights, a tactical vest and binoculars.
The deadly week that saw four attacks in three days
Police also found a Koran and black flags similar to those flown by IS group militants as well as the one used as background in Sunday's online video.
The video refers to the kosher store attacks in which Coulibaly was killed, indicating that one or more accomplices were involved in editing the footage and then posting it online.
On Monday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French media that Coulibaly “without a doubt had an accomplice”.
According to French daily Le Parisien, police are looking into the possibility that the gun used to shoot the jogger five times on Wednesday may have been used by someone else.
Before falling into a coma, the 32-year-old jogger reportedly told police his attacker was a “European type”, suggesting he may have been Caucasian and not black like Coulibaly. However, a judicial source quoted by Le Parisien said this information should be “treated with caution”.
The shooting took place a short walking distance from Coulibaly’s home in Fontenay-aux-Roses. Health officials have described the victim’s condition as critical.
The French public prosecutor involved in the inquiries into the Charlie Hebdo attack, the Montrouge killing and supermarket hostage siege announced Sunday that his office had joined investigations into what is now being considered the terrorist shooting of the jogger.
Police are also searching for Coulibaly's partner and possible accomplice, Hayat Boumeddiene, who is thought to have travelled to Syria.
On Monday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Boumeddiene had crossed into Syria on January 8, the day Coulibaly shot and killed the policewoman in Montrouge.
Date created : 2015-01-12