Tuesday 23 January 2018

Police make three arrests in probes into French terrorist attacks

Paris gunman Amedy Coulibaly
Paris gunman Amedy Coulibaly

Colette Legour in Paris

French police have arrested a man in the Paris region as part of the investigation into the November 13 attacks in the city.

Some 2,700 raids have been conducted since the attacks, with 360 people placed under house arrest across France.

According to the BBC, police have also arrested two people in northern France suspected of supplying weapons to one of the gunmen involved in an attack in January. They were taken in for questioning.

A 29-year-old man arrested on Monday was planning to travel to Syria, according to one French media report.

The Paris prosecutor's office says the two people arrested in northern France were held on suspicion of helping to provide guns to Amedy Coulibaly, who attacked a kosher supermarket in January.

The prosecutor's office confirmed that the man arrested was Claude Hermant, who is known to have links to far-right groups, while the other is his partner.

Coulibaly killed four people inside the supermarket, and separately a policewoman, before dying in a shootout with police.

Meanwhile, two eyewitnesses say they spotted the ringleader of November's Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, on the Greek island of Leros in October, placing him there at the same time as the two Stade de France suicide bombers travelled through.

It is known that the two Stade de France bombers arrived on Leros aboard smugglers' boats on October 3, then left for Athens with four other men, who have not been seen since.

A travel agent in Leros, who unwittingly sold the two bombers ferry tickets to Athens, says he is reasonably sure he also served Abaaoud, who stood out from hundreds of other migrants because he spoke French.

A trustee at the main island hospital also claims Abaaoud came there to be treated for a minor leg wound.

He claims Abaaoud appeared nervous and suspicious, and offered a €100 bribe to jump the treatment queue.

Belgian and French officials say Abaaoud, a Belgian Islamist of Moroccan descent, organised November's attacks, which killed 130 people.

He was known to have been living in Athens in January this year, but fled to Syria after a failed attempt by Belgian police to catch him.

Irish Independent

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