In an attempt to retaliate, France has bombed several major Islamic State (IS) strongholds in Syria. French warplanes bombed IS targets in Raqqa, the Islamists’ de facto capital in the country. This was the first strike after Friday’s carnage in Paris that left 132 people dead and over 350 injured. IS had claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks.
The strike is said to have destroyed an IS command post, jihadist recruitment centre, a munitions depot and a “terrorist” training camp, the French Defence Ministry said.
The operation was conducted in coordination with US forces by a dozen aircraft which took off from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, the ministry said.
France’s retaliation comes a day after French President Francois Hollande vowed to hit back against Islamic State “without mercy”. Hollande has declared a state of emergency in Paris and termed the serial terror attacks as an “act of war”.
Meanwhile, the French police have released a photograph of a “dangerous” suspect, 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam who is said to be one of three brothers linked to the slaughter. A massive international manhunt has been launched in Europe and the police suspect that the attacks may have been planned in Belgium. Salah Abdeslam is said to be one of the three brothers linked to Friday’s massacre.
Reports also suggest that French officials have identified the suspected mastermind of Paris attacks as Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud.
“We are determined to act together… to dismantle the networks” of the jihadists, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after talks with his Belgian counterpart Jan Jambon on Sunday.
Investigators believe three groups of attackers were involved in the carnage, and they do not rule out that one or more assailants may still be at large.
Heavily armed gunmen wearing explosive vests opened fire on crowds at seven different spots in Paris including concert halls, outdoor cafes and outside a stadium. The Bataclan concert hall recorded the highest number of casualties. 89 people were killed inside the concert hall, most of them being younsters who were enjoying a Friday evening performance by the Eagles of Death Metal group.
Seven of the gunmen and suicide bombers died in the bloodshed. Three of them blew themselves up outside the Stade de France where the French and German football teams were playing a friendly game.
(With inputs from agencies)