• France's news in English

AS IT HAPPENED: Police hunt for attack suspect

The Local · 15 Nov 2015, 21:31

Published: 15 Nov 2015 09:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Nov 2015 21:31 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit


  • Death toll stands at 129
  • Police seek 26-year-old Abdeslam Salah in connection with the attacks
  • Three of the attackers were French brothers, two of them were living in Brussels
  • EU interior ministers set to meet on Friday
  • Police find car used in Friday's attacks
  • Car contained "several Kalashnikovs", according to report
  • 14 arrests made all together
  • Six arrested were those close to one of the gunmen, including father and brother and sister-in-law
  • Attacker named as Omar Ismail Mostefai. Here's what we know about him
  • Greek investigators following up Syrian passport found at scene of attack
  • Up to 30 bodies of Paris victims yet to be identified: PM
  • Panic breaks out in central Paris after false alarm

Please note: this blog is now closed. 

21.05 – Current death toll revised back down from 132 to 129

Authorities have revised the current death toll from Friday's terrorist attacks back down to 129 after city hospitals said three 'new' deaths reported earlier were already included in the earlier toll of 129.

Speaking of Paris hospitals, hospital doctors treating the victims said on Sunday said the injuries of Paris attack survivors resemble war wounds and many are in deep shock.

Read more about conditions at Paris's hospitals here.

21.00 – Paris a city on edge tonight

The Local France’s Deputy Editor Ollie Gee was on the streets of Paris this evening, visiting some of the many impromptu memorials that have sprouted up all over the French capital and speaking to people in a city which is still very much in a state of shock and disbelief.




He was also on the scene there when panic erupted early in the evening in the city’s crowded Place de la République, with police bracing for action and frightened people fleeing to hide in nearby restaurants. Fortunately it proved to be a false alarm.

"Today's false alarm showed that despite the solidarity that Parisians have been showing since the attack, everyone is very much on edge,” Gee said.

"Seeing crying people running down the streets, and hiding in restaurants with the lights off, showed just how nervous people are.

"People are sobbing uncontrollably at the various memorials around Paris. Time will tell where this goes from here, but right now Parisians have their guard up.”



20:15 – French imams denounce the attacks

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called for the expulsion of “radicalized imams” from the country, but France's Muslim community was quick to speak out against the attacks. 
On Friday, the French Council of the Muslim Faith described the acts as “abhorrent and despicable”, and France's imams have strongly denounced Friday's attacks as “against the true calues of Islam,” whilst the French Union of Mosques said the killings were carried out by “an international terrorism which kills indiscriminately”.
Tareq Oubrou, an imam in Bordeaux, told newspaper Sud-Ouest that the correct response to the attacks was “to stay true to our democratic values of dignity and law,”, though he acknowledged the “vulnerability and feelings of exclusion” among some French muslims.
The imams of the Creusot region said: “These attacks were against the true values of Islam.”

On Sunday afternoon, a delegation of imams from across the country arrived at the Bataclan to pay tribute to those killed in the attacks. An imam from Brest spoke of French Muslims' “unanimous condemnation” of the attacks, Le Telegramme reported.

19:49 Paris museums and theatres to reopen on Monday

France's museums and theatres, which were closed after the attacks, are to reopen on Monday at 1pm, the Ministry of Culture has announced.

19:24 Police confirm false alarm

The alerts that caused crowds to flee in Paris were a false alarm, police have confirmed, adding “that no shot was heard or reported in the capital”.

Thibault Raisse, journalist at le Parisien, says the panic in Republique was caused by a lightbulb breaking in a restaurant - police reacted defensively then there was a stampede.

19:20 - Death toll rises to 132

The number of people killed in the attacks has risen to 132 after three more people died in hospital, AFP is reporting, citing Paris hospitals.

19:00 - Panic at Republique due to 'false alarm'

We're now hearing reports that the panic that broke out in the Republique area was caused by people mistaking firecrackers for shots.

Oliver Gee, who is nearby, sent us this:

"I saw three police draw their guns while shouldering walls and looking down a street. I later realized the restaurants were full, with scared and confused people, and the lights were off. 

The police shot off in a car along rue Bretagne. Helicopters are circling. 

A woman told me in tears that a man just screamed "run" to her so she hid with others in a restaurant.

"People were crying and I got really scared. I wasn't scared after Friday but I'm terrified now".

The scene in the Marais.

18:56 - Reports: Place de la Republique evacuated

We’re getting reports of panic breaking out in parts of central Paris. Our deputy editor Oliver Gee is reporting people fleeing from place de la Republique towards the Marais in the third arrondissement. Confusion and people running.

AP is reporting that Place de la Republique has been evacuated with no reason given, amid unconfirmed reports of shootings.

More soon.

18:33 - Police name suspect in appeal for information

French police say they are trying to trace a man, Abdeslam Salah, suspected of involvement in the attacks. According to police, he is 26 years old, 175 centimetres tall and has brown eyes.

The man is described as dangerous and the public are being warned not to approach him.

18:23 - What the state of emergency means

Quite apart from the fear and grief unleashed by Friday's terror attacks, people all over France now face months of low-level inconvenience as the state of emergency is extended for three months.

Deputy Editor Oliver Gee went down to Les Halles, a shopping centre in central Paris, where he was told by a security guard that they would be checking all bags for the next four months. Oliver says they were checking every single bag - including ladies' handbags.

Read our guide to the state of emergency here.

18:21 - Brother 'not released' by Belgian police - warrant issued for other brother

We're receiving more information about the three brothers suspected of being at the heart of Friday's attacks.

Reports in several French media that a brother arrested by Belgian police had been released have now been denied by Belgian police, according to BFMTV. He remains in custody.

Meanwhile, it is now being reported that the body of the second suicide bomber identified at the Bataclan concert venue, where 89 people were killed, belongs to another of the three brothers. This information comes from AFP, citing "sources close to the investigation."

Now Belgium has issued an international warrant for the arrest of the third brother, according to a judicial source who spoke to AFP. The suspect lived in the Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek.

18:06 - State of emergency to last three months

We are now getting reports that President Hollande plans to extend the state of emergency for three months. This is coming to us via AFP, which is citing "parliamentary sources".

17:51 - Parisians put on brave face as they come to terms with attacks

Parisians have been putting on a brave face throughout the day and enjoying some autumn sunshine in the capital. But as The Local's Sam Davies hit the streets he discovered a split between those feeling afraid and defiant in the face of Friday's tragedy.

Aubin, below, says: "My kids are asking questions, because the father of my son’s friend is 'missing' – he was at the Bataclan on Friday. The kids ask 'where is Leon’s father? Why has he disappeared?'"

Read Sam Davies' report about how Parisians are facing up to the aftermath of the attacks 


17:48 - US and France agree 'concrete steps' against Isis

The Pentagon has said that the US and France have agreed to act against Isis, AFP is reporting. We'll bring more details as we get them.

17:42 - Italian student's body identified

The body of Italian student Valeria Solesin has been found, her father confirmed. She was at the Bataclan on Friday night with three friends, who managed to escape.
Solesin had been living in Paris for the last four years, studying at the University of Paris 1.
17:40 -  Body of second French terrorist identified

The body of second French assailant has been identified, AFP is reporting, quoting security sources.

17.34 -  Brother released by Belgian police

A man arrested in Belgium, the brother of a man thought to be a terrorist who died in the attacks, has been released by police, BFMTV is reporting. The status of a third brother remains unclear. More soon. 

17.11 - Three brothers believed to be behind violence

Police sources have said that three brothers were involved in the Paris attacks that claimed 129 lives.

According to AFP, sources close to the investigation have revealed that one brother died in the attacks late on Friday, one is in custody in Belgium but it is unclear whether he took part in the rampage, while the third either took part and died during the attacks or is at large.

17.05 - What we know about how the attacks were planned

French investigators believe there were three teams involved in Friday's attacks on Paris. They think they used a range of weapons and may have been connected to Syria. Here's a look at the key facts confirmed so far about how the deadly violence was planned.

16.47 - Swedish victim was a woman in her 20s

More details have emerged about the Swedish woman killed in the attack. According to Swedish broadcaster she was from Västerås, north of Stockholm and in her 20s.

16.30 - Syrian refugees brace for Paris attack backlash

The discovery of a Syrian passport near the body of one attacker has sparked concerns that some assailants might have entered Europe as part of the huge influx of people fleeing Syria's civil war. Read the full story here.

16.20 - Some footage showing how Parisians are reacting to the attacks

Parisians will never lose their smile. Live from Place de la République. ***Les Parisiens ne perdront jamais leur sourire.En direct de la Place de la République.

Posted by Humans of Paris on Sunday, 15 November 2015

16.14 - Three days of national mourning declared in France

16.08 - "The Bataclan will reopen"

Photo: AFP
The managers of the Bataclan, where 89 people were killed,  remain defiant on Sunday, telling French TV channel Canal + that the concert hall will reopen.
"They attacked culture, it was a place of depravity for them," co-manager Dominique Revert said.
"The [atmosphere] will feel a bit heavy for a few months, a few years...but of course the Bataclan will reopen, we must not resist."
16.05 - Two attackers killed in Paris were Frenchmen who lived in Brussels, prosecutor says
Two assailants who died in the Paris attacks were Frenchmen who had lived in Brussels, Belgian prosecutors have said. 
The Belgian authorities are holding seven people for questioning in connection with the attacks, and investigators have found that two cars used in the operation were rented in Belgium, they added.
"It appears that two French nationals, who lived in Brussels ..., were identified as among the attackers who died on the spot," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.
"In addition, two cars registered in Belgium were found in Paris, one near the Bataclan and the other near Pere Lachaise," the statement said.
"The investigation shows that the two vehicles were rented at the beginning of the week in the Brussels area," the statement added.
It said that a total of seven people had been detained for questioning.
"Some of them may be put before an investigating magistrate in the next few hours," it added.

Photo: AFP
15.55 - The US has vowed to intensify coordination for a military response to the attacks
The United States will intensify coordination with France on a military response in Syria to the Paris attacks as well as on intelligence sharing, a top White House adviser said on Sunday.
"First of all, we're clearly going to work very closely with the French in terms of intelligence sharing, also in terms of their military response inside of Syria," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.
"The French have been with us in Iraq and Syria and conducting airstrikes. I think we want to continue to intensify that coordination," he said on ABC's "This Week" talk show.
15.46 - Police are hunting for the man who hired the black Polo in Paris
15: 39 - More on the seven arrests made so far
"Among the seven arrested are the father and Brother of one of the gunmen" - source: BFMTV 
15.30 - Chilling survivor account
"It was horrible, dreadful to feel so trapped - there was a bloodbath unfolding. They were killing everyone," David said.
15.20 - World confronted by 'new type of war'

German President Joachim Gauck said on Sunday that the world has been confronted with a "new type of war" perpetrated by terrorists bent on killing those who refuse to follow their "barbaric ideology".

"We live in times when we are mourning victims of a new type of war. These are victims of malicious murderous gangs," said Gauck.

Photo: AFP

"They are terrorists, who in the name of Islamist fundamentalism are fighting against democracy, against universal values and also against Muslims who refuse to follow their barbaric ideology," said the president at Germany's Memorial Day commemorating the victims of World War I and II.

Gauck, a former Lutheran pastor, said however that "those who perpetrate or condone these acts must know that the community of democracy is stronger than international hatred.

"We bow our heads before the dead, but never will we bow down before terror," he said.

15.15 - Reports the terrorists were French
French newspaper L'Express has reported that the terrorists were French and living in a Brussels suburb. 
15.09 - German captain speaks out after attacks
Germany football captain Bastain Schweinsteiger said on Sunday that the tragedy in Paris has left him 'speechless' and has called for unity after the latest wave of terrorist attacks. 
"I am still speechless about what happened on Friday," the 31-year-old wrote on both his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Photo: AFP

"My sincerest condolences to everybody who is affected by this terrible tragedy.

"My prayers also go out to all the people who lost their lives the day before in Beirut.

“No matter where you come from and what religion you follow - we are united."

14.59 – Some Paris cinemas reopen
Some Parisian cinemas reopened on Sunday, except those in the Pathé-Gaumont network. But museums, theatres and other cultural centres remain closed until further notice.
14.55 - One German now identified as victim
The Paris terror attacks have claimed the life of at least one German national, according to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. 
"Unfortunately, we must confirm that a German citizen is among the casualties of the Paris attacks," a spokesperson for the German ministry said. No further information was provided.
Photo: AFP
14.51 – 10,000 soldiers deployed across France

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said that 10,000 French soldiers will be deployed across France, according to BFMTV.

14.50 - German police arrested a man "on way to Eiffel Tower" earlier this month with a car full of weapons

Police are investigating whether a man arrested earlier this month could have been connected to the attacks, according to reports from AFP.

A man arrested in Germany with explosives and Kalashnikovs in his car said he was on his way to Paris "to see the Eiffel Tower" and refused to discuss the jihadist attacks.

"We want to talk (about the Paris attacks) with him but he doesn't want to talk. Not about this subject in any case," a spokesman for police in southern Bavaria said.

Police arrested the 51-year-old man from Montenegro on November 5 during a routine check on a Bavaria motorway. Police said in a statement that an address in Paris was found on a written note in the car as well as in his sat nav system, along with eight assault rifles, three handguns and explosives.

The suspect said he "wanted to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and then return home" and had "no knowledge (of the presence) of arms and explosives" in his vehicle, a police statement said.

The navigation system of his VW Golf car showed he had travelled "from Montenegro to Croatia, Slovenia, Austria" before being stopped in Rosenheim, the statement added.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Saturday that the authorities had yet to establish any link between the suspect and the gunmen in Paris. But Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer said that there was "reason to believe" he was connected to the attackers.

14.42 - Iraq has said it shared intelligence on potential threats in France, the US and Iran

"Sources in Iraqi intelligence obtained information that some countries would be targeted, especially France, America and Iran, and they were informed of this," Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has said.

Asked if the intelligence was directly related to Friday's attacks, ministry spokesman Ahmed Jamal said it had indicated that a number of countries, especially in Europe, were at risk of attack by the Islamic State jihadist group.

Jamal said the intelligence had been obtained months ago and declined to provide further details on the nature of the information.

Isis (also known as IS) the jihadist group that has seized control of larges parts of Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris at the packed Bataclan concert hall, restaurants and bars, and outside the Stade de France national stadium.

 Ibrahim al-Jaafari at a summit last week Photo: AFP

14.35 - Some more detail on France's state of emergency 

France announced a 12-day national state of emergency after the attacks in Paris on Friday night.
The announcement has wide-ranging impacts in the country. Schools and universities will reopen on Monday but with “exceptional” security measures in place, while airport security and border checks will be boosted. Food markets in Paris will be closed for a week and many museums will be shut. Read the full story
14.29 - More arrests made

The number of suspects arrested in Belgium has now been updated to seven, according to local news reports, although it is yet been made clear whether all are relatives of the suspected attackers. 

14.21 - Spanish victims named

Spanish authorities have confirmed that three Spanish men as well as a woman with dual Spanish and Mexican nationality were killed in the attacks.

Two men, Juan Alberto Gonazález Garrido and Alberto Pardo Touceda,  were gunned down at the concert in the Bataclan, while Jorge Alonso de la Celada was killed in an attack at a restaurant.

Michelli Gil Jáimez, who had dual Mexican and Spanish nationality was gunned down at La Belle Equipe restaurant. She had only got engaged 18 days ago. Read the full story

14.09 - EU interior ministers to hold crisis talks on Friday

European Union interior ministers will hold crisis talks in Brussels on Friday in the wake of the Paris jihadist attacks, the Luxembourg government announced.

"Following the tragic events in Paris, this extraordinary (meeting) will strengthen the European response while ensuring the follow-up of the measures taken," Etienne Schneider, the internal security chief for Luxembourg, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said in a statement.

13.42The Local France gets messages of support

Readers around the world have been sending us their thoughts. Here are a few:

We are all shocked saddened and trying to find the words and the way to tell you that we are so sorry for this horrible, cowardice attack on the French people and we stand together with all of you during this incredible time of grief. Viva la France!

Bill Parks
Portland, Oregon USA

Dear France,

Please know, that as a Canadian and an American, we will not let this stand. The United States would not exist except for the help of France. Take a deep breath, the "Doughboys" are with you. With love and condolences from North America.

Raymond St-Louis
Bradenton Beach, FL USA

12.00 - Up to 30 victims yet to be idenified

"They will be (identified) in the coming hours," said Valls outside the Ecole Militaire where a centre has been set up for the victims' families.

At least 129 people were killed, according to the latest official toll.

"These are not anonymous victims. They are lives, young people, who have been targeted while they spent a quiet evening in a café, or at a concert," Valls told reporters.

"No psychologist, no volunteer, no doctor can console them," he said of the grieving families.

"But we must help them with the process, with identifications, to accompany them... through all the administrative tasks."

9.30 - Police find car used in attacks

A black SEAT car used by gunmen who fired at people in restaurants during the attacks in Paris on Friday has been found in the eastern suburb of Montreuil, police said on Sunday. According to news agency AFP, the car contained "several Kalashnikovs".

Police have not confirmed whether the attackers that used the car are still on the run.

The car - the second vehicle police have found linked to Friday's attacks - was used in the shootings at the cafe on Rue Fontaine-au-Roi where five were killed and in the restaurant on Rue de Charonne, where 19 were gunned down, according to prosecutor Francois Molins.

Police have identified one of the gunmen who blew himself up at the Bataclan concert hall, the scene of the bloodiest attack where 89 people were killed, as 29-year-old Paris native Omar Ismail Mostefai.

Six people close to Omar Ismail Mostefai, who took part in the killings at the Bataclan concert hall and the first of Friday's attackers to be identified, have been detained. Among those detained are his father, a 34-year-old brother and a sister-in-law, judicial and police sources said.

They are being questioned as part of routine efforts to verify information about the attacker, the sources said. The sister-in-law is reported by BFMTV to have told police that the family lived a "quiet life".

"It's a crazy thing, it's madness," the brother told AFP on Saturday before being detained, referring to the carnage that left 129 people dead.



Born on November 21 1985, in the poor Paris suburb of Courcouronnes, Mostefai's criminal record shows eight convictions for petty crimes between 2004 and 2010, but no jail time.

Story continues below…

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Mostefai had been singled out as a high-priority target for radicalization in 2010 but, before Friday, he had "never been implicated in a terrorist network or plot".

Investigators are now probing whether he took a trip to Syria last year, according to police sources.

In related news, Greek authorities have confirmed that a passport found next to one of the assailants belonged to a man who registered as a refugee on the island of Leros in October.

However, Greek police are not ruling out that the passport had changed hands before the attacks.

They are also checking on the fingerprints of another man at the request of French investigators.

If the passport or fingerprints are matched to the attackers then it would mean they had hidden among the thousands of people that have fled Islamic State and Syria's civil war to seek refuge in Europe.

Meanwhile, authorities have said that the number of false alerts has escalated in the wake of Friday’s attacks. On Saturday, police urged the public not to spread false information or rumours as France struggles to come to terms with the second major terrorism attack on its soil in less than a year.

Authorities in Paris were on Sunday continuing the painstaking work of identifying the victims of the attacks. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said at lunchtime on Sunday that up to thirty bodies remained unidentified, according to AFP.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available