Hollande holds terror council after Abdeslam arrest

19th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

French President Francois Hollande met Saturday with key cabinet ministers and security officials after the arrest in Belgium of the last major suspect wanted in connection with the November Paris attacks.

As well as Prime Minister Manuel Valls, the meeting included the interior, defence, justice and foreign ministers, top security officials and the armed forces chief.

"The goal, following the arrest of (Salah) Abdeslam and several of his accomplices, is to review operations that are under way and the fight against terrorist groups in France and Europe," a member of Hollande's entourage said.

Abdeslam, Europe's most wanted man who allegedly helped plan the November 13 attacks in which 130 people were killed, was captured in a dramatic raid by armed police in Brussels on Friday.

Abdeslam, 26, and four other suspects were arrested in the gritty Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek.

Hollande, whose embattled presidency will be partly defined by his response to the worst terror attacks on French soil, said Paris would request Abdeslam's extradition from Belgium "as rapidly as possible".

With Belgium having arrested a series of people over links with Abdeslam, Hollande said many more were involved in the Paris attacks than originally believed.

In Paris, meanwhile, four suspected Islamists were arrested Wednesday, one of whom was thought to be planning "violent acts", French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

Cazeneuve played down reports that an attack had been "imminent" and said the authorities "carry out arrests of this kind every day."

Hollande, though, said the "threat level remains very high."


© 2016 AFP

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