France vows to step up air strikes on Islamic State

Paris aftermath: François Hollande indicates current state of emergency will be extended

France will intensify its air offensive against Islamic State (IS) and extend its state of emergency for three months, president François Hollande declared as the country remained on edge after 129 people were killed in the worst attack on the country since the second World War.

Declaring France was "at war" with jihadi terrorists, Mr Hollande called on the United States and Russia to join forces to destroy IS. He announced a raft of measures to strengthen France's fight against extremist militants, including extra funds for national security, a law to enable the state to revoke citizenship from convicted terrorists and a drive to recruit 10,000 new staff for the security services by 2017.

The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier will be dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean this week, tripling French forces' capacity to strike targets in IS-held territory in Syria and Iraq.

“France is at war. But we’re not engaged in a war of civilisations, because these assassins do not represent any,” he told a extraordinary session of both houses of parliament at the Palace of Versailles. Parliamentarians gave Mr Hollande a standing ovation before singing the Marseillaise in a show of political unity. Outside the chamber, political leaders have been more divided on how France should respond.


Mr Hollande said the "act of war" was decided upon and planned in Syria, prepared and organised in Belgium and carried out in France "with the complicity of French citizens".


French authorities believe

Abdelhamid Abaaoud

, a 28- year-old Belgian citizen from the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, played a key role in the Paris attacks. Abbaoud, who is currently in Syria, is a friend of

Salah Abdeslam

, the “eighth terrorist” who travelled from Paris to Brussels on Saturday and who is the object of a manhunt. The two were imprisoned together in Belgium in 2010 for armed robbery.

Abaaoud is believed to have been the "brain" of the cell in Verviers, Belgium, that was dismantled a few days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January.  Abaaoud eluded arrest and returned to Syria.

Brahim Abdeslam (31) detonated his explosives vest in the Petit Comptoir Voltaire bar near the Place de la Nation on Friday night.  He and his younger brother Salah (26) are believed to have shot dead more than 40 people at four cafes and restaurants in the 10th and 11th districts.  Salah escaped in a black Seat car, which he later abandoned.

‘Normal young man’

Speaking outside his home in Molenbeek after he was released from custody on Monday,

Mohamed Abdeslam

– a third brother – said he did not know of Salah’s whereabouts. “He grew up here, he studied here. He’s a completely normal young man,” he said.

Two of the three Bataclan attackers were identified as Samy Amimour, a 28-year-old bus driver from the Paris suburb of Drancy, and Omar Ismail Mostefai, a French petty criminal who had been identified as a potential radical but had never been implicated in a terrorist network.  Both men are believed to have gone to Syria, while Amimour had been placed under investigation in 2012 after a failed attempt to travel to Yemen.

Bilal Hadfi, a 20-year-old Frenchman living in Belgium, blew himself up outside the Stade de France.

"We know that more attacks are being prepared, not just against France but also against other European countries," prime minister Manuel Valls told RTL radio. Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the Paris atrocities, warned in a video that any country hitting it would suffer the same fate as Paris. It specifically identified Washington.

Minute’s silence

On the second of three days of national mourning, much of France came to a standstill at midday on Monday for a minute’s silence to remember the dead. Metro trains stopped, pedestrians paused and office workers stood at their desks. “I’m here to show that we’re all united in the face of barbarism. It’s the right response - to be here, together, all of France united,” said

Xavier Merveille

(25), a student who came to pay tribute at a streetside memorial on Boulevard Voltaire, close to where 89 people were killed in the attack on the Bataclan music venue on Friday.

The attacks at five locations in Paris and at the Stade de France, north of the city, killed 129 people from 15 countries and injured 352. Among those named were architect Raphaël Hilz (28), business student Marie Lausch (23) and Hélène Muyal (35), a hairdresser and music fan with a 16-year-old son. All three were killed at the Bataclan.

France remains under a nationwide state of emergency not seen since 1961, when army generals attempted a coup d’etat during the Algerian war. The decree gives the authorities the power to set curfews, limit the movement of people, forbid mass gatherings and close public spaces. Mr Hollande said he would seek to extend the powers for three months.

Using the special measures, 168 homes have been raided and 104 people have been placed under house arrest in the past 48 hours. These have led to 23 arrests and the seizure of 31 weapons, including a rocket launcher.

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is the Editor of The Irish Times

Lara Marlowe

Lara Marlowe

Lara Marlowe is Paris Correspondent of The Irish Times

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent