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PARIS TERROR AFTERMATH

TERRORISM

Paris terror chief planned La Defense bombing

The man said to be the commander and planner of the Paris terror attacks on November 13th intended to launch a suicide bomb attack at Paris's financial district La Defense, it has emerged.

Paris terror chief planned La Defense bombing
Photo: AFP

The suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks and an accomplice planned to blow themselves up in a suicide attack on the city's La Defense business district, the chief prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Belgian jihadist Abdelhamid Abaaoud (see photo below) aimed to target the area in western Paris in the week after the November 13 carnage, which left 130 people dead in the French capital, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters.

Abaaoud was killed in a hail of bullets the Wednesday following the attacks during a police raid on a flat in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.

Rumours had emerged that he was part of a fourth team that was planning an attack on La Defense or Charles de Gaulle airport, but on Tuesday the prosecutor confirmed the target was Paris's equivalent of the City in London.

The high rise district, full of skyscrapers, lies to the west of the capital and is where many of France's biggest companies have their headquarters.

Prosecutor Molins also revealed that Abaaoud returned to the scene of the attacks while the siege at the Bataclan concert venue was still under way.

Telephone analysis showed that Abaaoud had returned to the area around the Bataclan — where 90 people were killed by three assailants — while the police operation to free hostages was ongoing.

“The analysis leads us to believe that Abaaoud returned to the scene of the crimes after the attack carried out on people sitting at tables at restaurants while the BRI (elite police commando units) were intervening at the Bataclan,” said Molins.

Abaaoud had also been in contact by phone with Bilal Hadfi, one of the suicide bombers who detonated his explosives outside the Stade de France.

TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

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