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One Paris attacker identified, France mourns


Paris: France was in mourning on Sunday as investigators identified one of the seven terrorists who massacred 129 people in Mumbai-type attacks here as a Parisian with a criminal record.

A severed finger of the terrorist was found in the blood-stained Bataclan concert hall where one group of killers went on a shooting spree when an American band was playing, killing 80 to 100 music lovers.

Prosecutors identified the terrorist as Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 29-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin with a criminal record. He was known to have been radicalized, media reports said.

A car was also found in a Paris suburb with many automatic rifles hidden in its back seat.

French prosecutors said the bloody Friday night attacks on six spots packed with tourists in Paris were carried out by three coordinated teams of gunmen and suicide bombers.

The deadly attack — akin to the way terrorists from Pakistan ravaged Mumbai in November 2008 killing 166 Indians and foreigners — also left an estimated 350 people wounded. Many were in critical condition.

The Friday targets also included a major stadium, restaurants and bars in Paris.

It was the worst act of violence in Paris since World War II. President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and ordered curfew in the French capital — for the first time in 70 years.

Security forces have said all the terrorists involved in the well coordinated attacks were killed. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bloodbath, and threatened more bloodshed because of France’s participation in the US-led attacks on the terrorist group.

Six suspects were detained in Paris, among them Mostefai’s brother, father and sister-in-law. They were being interrogated.

BBC said investigators were working on the theory that there may have been another team of attackers who managed to flee the scene.

The discovery of a Syrian passport near the body of one of the attackers has raised suspicion that some of the killers may have entered Europe as a part of an influx of people feeling Syria’s civil war.

Amid national mourning and a sense of disbelief, France continued the grim task of identifying the dead and tending to the wounded.

According to Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, “several dozen” bodies had been identified.

The victims, besides the French, include those from Britain, Sweden, Italy, the US and Spain.

Three crisis centres were set up to counsel victims and their families. Many others resorted to social media to try to find out the fates of their missing loved ones, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Alexis Debreil, 38, was recovering at a hospital after being shot in the knee at Le Petit Cambodge restaurant where he was dining with two friends.

He said people were lying on top of one another on the floor of the restaurant as the bullets whizzed above.

“I know a lady died next to me. At one point I tried to wake her up. I stroked her hair and said, ‘Stay with us, hang in there.’ I know she was alive at that point because I saw her torso move. Then she went completely white and I knew she’d died,” he recounted.

In response to appeal for blood donations, Parisians responded en masse, lining up at hospitals and other centres.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said France would continue with air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria. President Hollande cancelled his plans to attend the G20 in Turkey.


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