French President Francois Hollande has said Muslims are the "main victims" of fanaticism, as funerals were held in Paris for five of the 17 people killed in last week's Islamist attacks.
Wednesday 16 Sep 2015
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French President Francois Hollande has said Muslims are the "main victims" of fanaticism, as funerals were held in Paris for five of the 17 people killed in last week's Islamist attacks.

Speaking at the Arab World Institute in Paris, Hollande said on Thursday: "It is Muslims who are the main victims of fanaticism, fundamentalism and intolerance", adding the whole country was "united in the face of terrorism".

Members of France's Muslim community, Europe's largest, have "the same rights and the same duties as all citizens" and must be "protected", the president vowed.

The five buried included two of Charlie Hebdo's best-known cartoonists and Franck Brinsolaro, 49, a police protection officer killed in the satirical magazine's editorial meeting.

Pallbearers carry the casket of Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Bernard Verlhac

Even as the ceremonies took place, the magazine continued to fly off the shelves, sparking fury in some parts of the Muslim world for depicting the Prophet Mohammed on its cover.

Georges Wolinski, 80, and Bernard "Tignous" Verlhac, 57, who were gunned down by two Islamist brothers in the attack claimed by al-Qaeda, were buried at private family funerals.

Thousands braved drizzle outside the town hall memorial service for Tignous, laying flowers under a huge portrait of the cartoonist as his wife Chloe paid tribute inside.

Authorties have released the names of two suspects wanted in connection with the second siege at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.

The AFP has reported that two people have died at the scene.

Friday 16 Jan 2015

French authorities have detained 12 people overnight in the suburbs of Paris in connection with last week's Islamist attacks that killed 17 people.

The nine men and three women were to be questioned about "possible logistic support" they may have given to the gunmen, in particular weapons and vehicles, a judicial source says.

Raids are still taking place in Montrouge just outside Paris, where gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed a policewoman last week, Grigny where he grew up, Fleury-Merogis south of the French capital and Epinay-sur-Seine north of the city.

According to a police source, investigators have followed several people over the past few days that had been pinpointed thanks to probes on people in the alleged entourage of the Kouachi brothers, who waged the Charlie Hebdo attack, and Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman and four Jews in a supermarket.

Among other things, they are looking for the car of Hayat Boumeddiene, Coulibaly's wanted partner who is now believed to be in Syria.

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Thursday 15 Jan 2015

In a video entitled "A message regarding the blessed battle of Paris", al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said that it had financed and plotted the assault on the weekly that left 12 people dead and shocked France.

Al Qaeda in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, saying it was ordered by the Islamist militant group's leadership for insulting the Prophet Mohammad, according to a video posted on YouTube.

Gunmen killed a total of 17 people in three days of violence that began when they opened fire at staff in Charlie Hebdo's offices last week in revenge for publication of satirical images of the Prophet.

One Western source said no hard evidence of a direct operational link to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had yet been found.

But this was the first time that a group officially claimed responsibility for the attack, led by two French-born brothers of Algerian extraction, Cherif and Said Kouachi, who had visited the poor Arabian peninsula country in 2011.

Authorities in France hunting possible accomplices say they are on alert for further attacks.

"As for the blessed Battle of Paris, we...claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the Messenger of God," said Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi, an AQAP ideologue, in the recording.

Ansi said the "one who chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation is the leadership of the organisation", without naming an individual.

He added without elaborating that the strike was carried out in "implementation" of the order of overall al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who has called for strikes by Muslims in the West using any means they can find.

Ansi also gave credit for the operation to slain AQAP propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, a preacher cited by one of the gunmen in remarks to French media as a financer of the attack.

It was not clear how Awlaki, killed by a U.S. drone in 2011, had a direct link to the Paris assault, but he inspired several militants in the United States and Britain to acts of violence.

Spotlight

AQAP mocked a big solidarity rally in Paris on Sunday for the victims, saying the shock on display showed feebleness.

"Look at how they gathered, rallied and supported each other; strengthening their weakness and dressing their wounds," it said of Western leaders who attended the event.

"Look carefully at their gathering. They are the same who fought us in Afghanistan and Caucasus, in Gaza, the Levant, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen."

Al Qaeda offshoot Islamic State released a video it said showed interviews with three French fighters in Syria praising the attacks, the SITE monitoring service reported.

One said: "I say to the French people who think that the Islamic State will not reach Europe: With permission from Allah the Almighty, we will reach Europe - all of Europe."

One Western source described Ansi as an Al Qaeda hawk reputed to be an advocate of a merger between the group and Islamic State, an even more hardline organisation.

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the AQAP recording, which carried the logo of al Qaeda's media group al-Malahem.

The purported claim of responsibility puts a new spotlight on a group often cited by Western officials as al Qaeda's most dangerous branch. AQAP has recently focused on fighting enemies at home such as government forces and Shi'ite rebels, but says that it still aims to carry out attacks abroad.

Two senior Yemeni sources that both Cherif and Said Kouachi, who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack, had travelled to Yemen via Oman in 2011, met Awlaki and underwent weapons training in the eastern province of Marib.

A Marib tribal leader denied that the brothers had trained there in 2011 or that Awlaki used to be present in the province.

AQAP's Yemeni leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, was once a close associate of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, whose father was born in Yemen, a neighbour of Saudi Arabia.

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi complained on Wednesday that Yemen was subject to a politicised media campaign over the attackers' 2011 visit, state news agency Saba said.

"The person reported to have travelled to Yemen to learn in three days how to fire a pistol had been detained and under investigation for two years in France," Saba quoted Hadi as saying. Hadi wondered why such suspicious elements came to Yemen and returned home without being questioned, it said.

As the survivors' edition of Charlie Hebdo flew off the shelves in France, al-Qaeda's Yemen branch claimed responsibility for the attack on the magazine.
FULL COVERAGE: PARIS TERRORIST ATTACKSCharlie Hebdo has made a defiant return with a new issue that sold out across France in record time, as al-Qaeda posted a video claiming last week's deadly attack on its cartoonists.The satirical magazine once...