Three terror teams involved in Paris attacks

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Parisians look at the scene outside the Bataclan concert hall after an attack on November 13, 2015 in Paris, France. According to reports, over 120 people were killed in a series of bombings and shootings across Paris, including at a soccer game at the Stade de France and a concert at the Bataclan theater. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

PARIS – Seven “terrorists” were killed in attacks that caused the deaths of at least 129 people in Paris and a Syrian passport was found on one of the assailants, the French capital’s prosecutor said Saturday. 

Prosecutor Francois Molins said the attackers had worked in three teams, striking seven times in quick succession on Friday night. The prosecutor meanwhile said it was not clear to whom the passport belonged.

French police so far reported that a Syrian passport was found but did not say where exactly it was found, although they indicated a possible Syrian connection was a working hypothesis for investigators after assailants hit six separate locations in Paris late Friday, killing 128. 

However, Reuters citing sources close to the investigation said the passport was found near the body of one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up on Friday near a Paris soccer stadium.

On Saturday, a Greek minister said the Syrian passport found by police at the scene of the mass shooting in a Paris concert hall belonged to an asylum seeker who registered on a Greek island in October.

“We confirm that the Syrian passport holder came through the Greek island of Leros on October 3 where he was registered under EU rules,” said a statement issued by Nikos Toskas, the minister for citizen protection.

French police said the document was found “near the body of one of the attackers” in the investigation into the main attack of Friday’s carnage, at the Bataclan concert hall, where 82 people were killed.

European security officials had long feared that jihadists could take advantage of the mass migration influx, mainly from war-torn Syria, that Europe has been experiencing since the beginning of the year.

A Greek police source on Saturday said Athens had forwarded to French authorities the fingerprints of the passport holder registered on Leros in October, to check whether he was actually involved in Friday’s attacks.

Greece’s junior minister for migration Yiannis Mouzalas had admitted in September that it would be “foolish” to completely discount the possibility of jihadists sneaking into Europe among the refugee wave.

Over 800,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, with over 3,400 dying in the process.

But Mouzalas noted that the number of Europeans joining extremist groups in the Middle East was far higher.

“The opposite is happening. They leave from here and go over there,” he said.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday insisted that the refugees fleeing Syria “are hunted by the same terrorists” that struck in Paris on Friday.

“We must find solutions to the drama of the people who leave their homes, hunted by the same terrorists, and drown in the Mediterranean,” Tsipras said in a televised address.

A French national is also believed to be among four men who stormed a Paris concert hall overnight, killing at least 82 people, police and a source close to the investigation said Saturday.

Investigators said they found the body of a French national who was known to intelligence services and indicated he was likely one of four men who attacked the Bataclan concert hall late Friday.

They did not give details of his identity or his background.

Bataclan concern hall was one of the areas hit where witnesses said the gunmen shouted to the crowd: “Allahu Akbar. We’re stronger than the French.” Other witnesses also said the gunmen explained their violent acts were in response to France over Syria.

Some 300 people were hospitalized following the deadly attacks in Paris of whom 80 are in “critical” condition, the city’s hospital authority said Saturday.

A prosecutor said there could be eight gunmen killed across the capital, with more still at large behind seven attacks in Paris.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for a coordinated assault by the gunmen and bombers, and vowed that France will continue to be a target for the militant group.

France furthered its involvement in its fight against ISIS militants. On Sunday, the French army bombed an oil supply center held by ISIS in eastern Syria after it deployed aircraft carrier in anti-ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria.

Belgian police raided Saturday a neighborhood of the capital Brussels in connection with the deadly attacks in Paris, public television RTBF reported.

The network quoted an unidentified source as saying up to three raids were being carried out in the Molenbeek district in connection with the Paris attacks.

Meanwhile, a man arrested in southern Germany last week, who had weapons including machine guns and explosives in his car, was “likely linked to attackers in Paris,” German media reported Saturday.

Police in the southern region of Bavaria confirmed the arrest on Nov. 5 during a routine check on a motorway, saying “many machine guns, revolvers and explosives” were found in the vehicle of the suspect.

However, the police spokesman would not confirm the link with Friday’s attacks in Paris that left more than 120 people dead.

“I cannot tell you what he was planning to do with the weapons,” he added.

Meanwhile, Germany’s interior minister on Saturday made a plea against linking the terror attacks in Paris to the record influx of asylum seekers into Europe.

“I would like to make this urgent plea to avoid drawing such swift links to the situation surrounding refugees,” Thomas de Maiziere said, noting that there have already been “appalling scales of attacks against asylum seekers and asylum seeker shelters.”

Germany is expecting up to one million asylum seekers this year, but the influx has also exposed faultlines in the country, with a spate of arson attacks on refugee shelters.

Agencies

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