THE number of people who died in Paris attacks on Friday has increased to 132 as police intensify a manhunt for suspects,Mirror online reports.
Three Kalashnikov rifles have been found in an abandoned car believed to have been used in the Paris gun and bomb attacks, according to reports. Officials said a Seat car was discovered in the Paris suburb of Montreuil, but they could not confirm if this was the same Seat spotted at the scene of attacks on Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, Sky News reports. It comes as a French citizen – Ismael Omar Mostefai – was named as one of the terrorists who was reportedly inside the Bataclan concert hall where at least 89 people died.
The Belgian broadcaster RTBF is reporting two of the attackers were from Brussels. At least six people have now been arrested in Belgium and on the Belgian-French border, but Belgian officials have declined to comment on reports the attacks were largely planned in Brussels. A French official said a brother of one of the seven suicide bombers was among those facing questioning. As investigators try to identify all the attackers, and any potential accomplices, they are also examining two passports found at the scenes of the attacks. The Mayor of Chartres said Mostefai, 29, was killed carrying out one of six attacks on Friday night.
French newspaper Le Monde said he was identified from a print from his severed finger, discovered after he detonated a suicide vest inside the Bataclan. Mostefai was born in Courcouronnes, Essonne, and lived in Chartres, southwest of Paris. He had a criminal record and was known to security services but had not spent time in jail or been linked to any extremist groups.
According to French news website RTL, Mostefai’s brother turned up at a police station near his home in the south of Paris explaining that he had not been heard from in months. Former neighbours described Mostefai as “a bloke like any other.”
Paris prosecutor’s office said some of Mostefai’s family members had been held, without giving details. Three teams of attackers in identical explosives vests appear to have co-ordinated the “act of barbarism” that left a total 129 people dead and 352 injured across the French capital. A French citizen is among three people detained at the Belgian border, while others were held in police raids in Molenbeek, an immigrant area of Brussels.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said at least one of those held in Molenbeek was thought to have spent the previous night in Paris.
Two cars registered in Belgium were impounded close to scenes of the violence in Paris, including the Bataclan. Molenbeek has been connected with two attacks in France this year – the Islamist killer at a kosher shop in Paris in January got his guns in the district, as did the attacker overpowered on a Brussels-Paris train in August. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the near-simultaneous attacks, which it blamed on France’s involvement in the US-led airstrikes on IS territory in Syria and Iraq. The assailants were heard speaking of both countries during the atrocities.
Syrian and Egyptian passports were found near the bodies of two of the attackers, with Greek officials suggesting that two of the suspects may have arrived in the European Union through Greece in recent months. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins confirmed a Syrian passport found at the site of one of the attacks belonged to a Syrian citizen born in 1990, but he was unknown to the security services. Serbian media has published an image purporting to be the Syrian passport, which has the name Ahmed Almuhamed, 25.
The Blic website said the image was uncovered when French officials asked Serbian authorities to trawl records for migrants who had passed through Serbia. Serbia’s Interior Ministry has said the holder of the passport crossed into Serbia on October 7, seeking asylum. However, experts say it is possible passports could have been faked or stolen from innocent people. Tony Smith, a consultant on global border control, said it is extremely difficult for the EU to track people once they are in Europe because there are no internal borders. French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, has vowed to “destroy” those behind the killings, which have led to France declaring a state of emergency and three days of mourning. Major attractions are closed and thousands of soldiers are on the country’s streets.