France widens manhunt for terror suspects as PM warns of future attacks
France has arrested 23 people in raids across the country and recovered a cache of weapons in the city of Lyon. A Belgium-born suspect is among those being sought by authorities.
French police raided more than 150 locations across the country overnight in response to Friday's terrorist attacks, as Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned of potential further attacks.
The raids came as the hunt intensified for a key suspect in the attacks that killed 129 people and wounded more than 350, the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II. France responded Sunday by launching multiple airstrikes on Raqqa, the Islamic State's de-facto capital in Syria where Iraqi intelligence officials have said the Paris attacks were planned.
“We are showing our will to fight terrorism and those who are related to terrorism, radical Islamism, Salafist groups, and all those who preach hatred towards the Republic,” Mr. Valls said in an interview on RTL radio. He added that terrorism could strike again in France “in the coming days or weeks.”
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that authorities raided 168 locations and arrested 23 people overnight, according to the Associated Press. Agence France-Presse reports that police found "an arsenal of weapons,” including a rocket launcher, in the southeastern city of Lyon. Five people were arrested in the raid.
Separately, an international manhunt is under way for Abdeslam Salah, a 26-year-old man born in Belgium, whose brother was among the suicide bombers in Friday’s coordinated attacks in Paris. Mr. Saleh rented a Volkswagen Polo that carried hostage takers to the Bataclan theater where the highest death toll occurred.
Seven of the assailants were killed in Friday's attacks. But prosecutors have said they believe three teams were involved and suggested that some suspects are on the run, possibly in Belgium. On Sunday, authorities in Belgium arrested seven people in connection with the Paris attacks, two of whom are French nationals, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The Paris prosecutor’s office announced Monday that it had identified Samy Amimour, a 28-year-old Frenchmen, as one of the suicide bombers. Mr. Amimour had been investigated in 2012 for links to terrorist activity and placed under judicial supervision. He violated travel restrictions placed on him the following year and has since been subject to an international arrest warrant, reports the Financial Times.
Another newly identified suicide bomber took part in an attack at the Stade de France on Friday night. A Syrian passport in the name of Ahmad Al Mohammad found at the scene of the attack was located near his body, but prosecutors said the authenticity of the passport “had yet to be verified.”
Meanwhile, France and Belgium remain on high alert as authorities continue their search for Saleh and look to prevent potential attacks. Valls said that no fewer than five terror attack plans have been foiled since the summer.
“We know that more attacks are being prepared, not just against France but also against other European countries,” he said.
The overnight police raids coincided with France's largest airstrike against the Islamic State in Syria to date. The Defense Ministry said 12 French aircraft, including 10 fighter jets, destroyed a munitions depot and jihadi training camp in Raqqa, according to the New York Times.