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TERRORISM

Three linked to French jihadist held ‘for watching police’

Three men with links to a French jihadist who killed a police officer and his partner have been arrested for reportedly carrying out surveillance on other officers.

Three linked to French jihadist held 'for watching police'
Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and his partner Jessica Schneider. Photo: AFP

Three men with links to jihadist Larossi Abballa, who killed a police officer and his partner outside Paris last week, were arrested on Tuesday for carrying out surveillance on other police officers, sources said.

The three were arrested in the Paris suburbs of Mureaux and Mantes-la-Jolie, home of Abballa who was shot dead by police after killing the couple at their home on June 13th.

One of the three suspects is on France's national security watchlist.
   
They are suspected of spying on a police event in the Yvelines region west of Paris, one of the police sources said.
   
The three men, known to France's intelligence services after previously being convicted of terrorist related crimes, are suspected of carrying out surveillance on police, notably during a public celebration, according to French TV channel M6.

Police commander Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and his partner Jessica Schneider were killed at their home in nearby Magnanville.

The attacker pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and, during the assault, streamed a live video on Facebook of himself inside the house with the toddler, urging “other surprises” and pledging to “turn the Euro (2016) into a graveyard”.

The investigation has centered on those close to Abballa, with suggestions on Tuesday that the attacker may have had links to the notorious French jihadist Fabien Clain.

Two other men linked to the attacker were charged and detained by an anti-terror court on Saturday.

Saad Rajraji, 27, and Charaf-Din Aberouz, 29, were charged with having links to a terrorist group, but were not found to have any connection to last week's murder.

The two men had been convicted along with Abballa in September 2013 as part of a network to send jihadists to Pakistan, judicial sources close to the investigation said.

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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