France names first suspect in Friday’s attacks
French police questioned on Sunday relatives of one of the suicide attackers who brought carnage to Paris as a row over Europe’s refugee crisis re-ignited, with conservatives demanding an end to “the days of uncontrolled immigration”.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that three jihadist cells staged co-ordinated hits on Friday night at bars, a concert hall and soccer stadium, killing 129 people and injuring 352, including 99 who were in a serious condition.
Prosecutors have said the slaughter – claimed by Islamic State as revenge for French military action in Syria and Iraq – appeared to involve a multinational team with links to the Middle East, Belgium and possibly Germany as well as home-grown French roots.
Belgian police arrested three people on Saturday in raids in a poor, immigrant quarter of Brussels as they pursued emerging links between the Paris attacks and an Islamist bastion in France’s northern neighbour.
Further evidence emerged that at least one of the attackers had travelled through Europe alongside Syrian refugees, seeking asylum in Serbia. But with the European Union deeply split over the migrant crisis, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker stressed the attacker was not a refugee but a criminal.
Museums and theatres remained closed in Paris for a second day on Sunday, with hundreds of soldiers and police patrolling the streets and metro stations after French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency.
Seven gunmen, all of whom were wearing suicide vests packed with explosives, died in the multiple assaults. The first to be identified was named as Ismael Omar Mostefai, a 29-year-old who lived in the city of Chartres, southwest of Paris.
French media said he was French-born and of Algerian descent. Molins said the man had a security file for Islamist radicalization, adding that he had a criminal record but had never spent time in jail. He was identified through tests on his severed finger.
A judicial source said Mostefai’s father and brother had been taken in for questioning, along with other people believed to be close to him.
Another source said police had found a car in a suburb east of Paris that was believed to have been used in the assault, suggesting that at least one of the attackers had escaped.
At least one of the other attackers appears to have followed the route taken by hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers who have crossed by boat from Turkey to the Greek Islands, before heading through the Balkans to EU countries to the north, mainly Germany and Sweden.
In Belgrade, the Serbian government said the holder of a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the gunmen had passed through the country last month where he sought asylum.