Thursday 23 May 2019

Guns used in Paris attacks a 'legacy of the Balkans war'

Aftermath of a wave of terror

French soldier patrols near the Eiffel Tower in Paris as part of the highest level of
French soldier patrols near the Eiffel Tower in Paris as part of the highest level of "Vigipirate" security plan after the shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo after gunmen stormed the offices of the weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, renowned for lampooning radical Islam, killing 12 people, including two police officers in the worst militant attack on French soil in recent decades (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)
People walk past Jordanian police as they stand guard before a protest against satirical French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad as the cover of its first edition since an attack by Islamist gunmen, after the Friday prayer in Amman January 16 (REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed)
People attend the funeral ceremony of Stephane Charbonnier also known as Charb, the publishing director of Charlie Hebdo, in Pontoise, outside Paris (AP Photo/Martin Bureau)
Pallbearers carry the coffin of late satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Bernard Verlhac, known as Tignous, after a tribute at the Montreuil town hall, near Paris, January 15. Ceremonies continue to honour the memories of the 17 people who were killed in last week's attacks (REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)
A man holds a sign reading "Charlie and his allies are damned" during a protest against Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou's attendance last week at a Paris rally in support of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad as the cover of its first edition since an attack by Islamist gunmen, in Niamey on Saturday (REUTERS/Tagaza Djibo)
REFILE - CORRECTING LOCATION Supporters of religious groups protests against satirical French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which featured a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad as the cover of its first edition since an attack by Islamist gunmen, in Lahore January 16, 2015. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza (PAKISTAN - Tags: MEDIA CIVIL UNREST SOCIETY POLITICS RELIGION)
A man identified by a lawyer as Cherif Kouachi, one of the two brothers who killed 12 people in the attack on the weekly paper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, is seen in this still image taken from a Paris courthouse while facing charges of helping smuggle Islamist fighters into Iraq, March 19, 2008 (REUTERS)
A Belgian paratrooper keeps guard outside a Jewish school in central city of Antwerp. Security was tight at public buildings and Jewish districts in Brussels and Antwerp and the army provided 150 troops to bolster police presence, following a raid in an apartment in the city of Verviers (REUTERS/Yves Herman)
Police officers guard French citizen Fritz-Joly Joachin, 29, center, inside the courtroom before a hearing in the town of Haskovo, Bulgaria. The court was considering a request to extradite a French citizen charged with having been linked to the Kouachi brothers who killed 12 people at the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo magazine last week (AP Photo)
Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, a leader of the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda, is seen in this still image taken from a social media website, which purports to show Al Qaeda in Yemen claiming responsibility for the attack on the French satirical newspaper, saying it was ordered by the Islamist militant group's leadership for insulting the Prophet Mohammad (REUTERS/YouTube via Reuters)

One of the 12 suspects held in connection with the Paris attacks might have been a "fourth" gunman.

The suspect's DNA was found on a semi-automatic pistol used by Amedy Coulibaly in his attack on the kosher supermarket on January 9. It was used to shoot and injure a jogger two days earlier.

The eight men and four women were arrested on Friday and are being questioned over whether they helped Said and Cherif Kouachi, who attacked Charlie Hebdo magazine offices on January 7 killing 12 people, and Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman on January 8 and four hostages in a Jewish supermarket the next day.

Investigators are trying to establish who shot the jogger, a 32-year-old electrician who is now in a coma. Before losing consciousness, he is believed to have described his attacker as being "of European appearance", which would rule out Coulibaly. The motive might have been to "test" the gun.

This is part of an inquiry into how Coulibaly and the Kouachis obtained the guns and ammunition, worth about €25,000. As all three had only menial jobs they are unlikely to have had access to such ready funds.

Sarajevo sources say the bullets came from Bosnia. They were 7.62x39mm, a calibre compatible with the Kalashnikovs used by the Kouachis and a sub-machine gun seen in Coulibaly's "martyrdom" video.

Zivko Marjanac, Bosnia's deputy defence minister, confirmed that the ammunition used was manufactured in 1986 by Igman Company, a state-owned factory in Konjic. The company is one of the five largest ammunition manufacturers in the world, supplying more than 30 countries.

Bullets have been stolen from Igman stockpiles in the past but Mr Marjanac emphasised that the bullets were produced almost 30 years ago and it was impossible to establish how they reached France.

"The ammunition was definitely produced in Bosnia. We had a war here; every other house has 20 bullets hidden inside somewhere," he said.

Bosnia was probably the source of the weapons too. Experts believe that about 750,000 illegal firearms are still circulating there; a legacy of the country's civil war between 1992 and 1995.

The Kouachis used an M80 Zolja rocket launcher, commonly used in the Balkans conflict. Coulibaly had a Czech-made VZ58 sub-machine gun, seen in his "martyrdom" video.

"Its shape is symbolic," said Nicolas Florquin, a senior researcher at the Small Arms Survey. "The shape looks like the AK-74U Bin Laden had in the background of his videos. In some illicit markets, as in Lebanon, the AK-74U is nicknamed the Bin Laden."

Coulibaly could have bought the VZ58 legally in France with the right permit. Mr Florquin said: "He could have stolen it, borrowed it from a legal owner, or bought it on the black market."

Coulibaly also used a Skorpion, a Czech-made gun which stopped being manufactured in 1979 but is still common in the Balkans and among Europe's criminals.

Coulibaly's Tokarev is equally common. The Soviet Union made some two million of them. However, the Kouachi brothers each had an AKS-74 Kalashnikov, less common than its predecessor, the AK-47. Only Bulgaria and Romania of the Balkan nations have a history of making it.

© Telegraph

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