More attacks being prepared against France: French PM
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says more attacks are being prepared not just against France but also elsewhere in Europe.
“We know that operations were being prepared and are still being prepared, not only against France but other European countries, too,” he told RTL radio on Monday.
The French prime minister said that Paris attacks were “organized, thought out, planned out of Syria,” warning that, “Terrorists can hit again in the coming days or weeks.”
“We should not be afraid. We should be prepared for it,” Valls added.
At least 132 people were killed and 350 others injured after assailants struck at least six different venues in and around the French capital late on Friday.
Valls said France is at war with terrorism and will act accordingly. “We will respond blow for blow,” he said. “We will act, we will strike and we will win.”
The French premier further said that the French airstrikes against purported Daesh positions in Syria will continue.
On Sunday, France’s Defense Ministry said that the country’s fighter jets pounded positions it said belonged to Daesh in its de facto capital, al-Raqqah, in Syria, and destroyed a training camp and a command post in the northern Syrian city.
Valls, however, said that the epicenter of the battle against Daesh “is not in Syria but primarily in Iraq. That is where the future is at stake.”
The French prime minister also said that police have carried out more than 150 raids on suspected extremists since the attacks on Paris.
Several arrests were reportedly made and weapons seized during the pre-dawn raids in the cities of Lyon, Toulouse, Bobinyi, Calais, Jeaumont, and Grenoble on Monday.
Also on Sunday, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the terrorist attacks in Paris were planned from abroad with support from militants in Belgium.
Two men stand at a makeshift memorial in tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks at the Le Carillon cafe in the French capital, late on November 15, 2015. (Photo by AFP)
“The attacks that hit us on Friday were planned abroad. A group of attackers who were mobilized for the action were situated on Belgian territory and could have provided – the inquiry will tell us – their support in France,” Cazeneuve said.
Cazeneuve made the remarks after talks with his Belgian counterpart Jan Jambon in Paris.
The French official said that the European countries should boost intelligence sharing, calling for “systematic and coordinated controls” at the internal borders of the European Union (EU).
Suspected mastermind identified
French officials on Monday identified the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks as Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud. They said Abaaoud was linked to recent thwarted train and church attacks and is currently in Syria.
The Paris prosecutor’s office also on Monday said that two bombers involved in the deadly attacks in Paris had been identified. The office identified the attackers as Samy Amimour, a 28-year-old Frenchman charged in a terrorism investigation in 2012, and Ahmad al-Mohammad, a 25-year-old born in Idlib, Syria.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins had said earlier on Sunday that at least three French attackers were involved in the string of explosions on November 13. According to Molins, two of the men, aged 20 and 31, lived in the Belgian capital, Brussels. The first of the attackers has been identified as 29-year-old French-born Omar Ismail Mostefai.
French police have also released a handout photo of a 26-year-old Belgian-born, Abdeslam Salah, who is suspected of being directly involved in the bombings. Police have described him as being “dangerous.”
In a statement on Saturday, Daesh claimed responsibility for the bloody attacks in France. Also on Saturday, Daesh released an undated video, threatening to attack France as long as it continued to participate in a US-led aerial campaign purportedly against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.