France police attacker had a list of targets, says prosecutor

A man who stabbed a police commander and police administrator to death at their home in a Paris suburb pledged loyalty to the leader of the Islamic State (IS) group and had a list of other targets, including rappers, journalists, police officers, and public officials, the Paris prosecutor said.

François Molins said attacker Larossi Abballa made the declaration of allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in exchanges with officers during a three-hour standoff on Monday night in Magnanville, about 56km west of Paris. He was eventually killed by police.

Abballa was responding to IS calls to “kill non-believers where they live”, and with their families, Mr Molins said.

IS news agency Amaq cited an unnamed source as saying an IS fighter carried out the attack.

Prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said French authorities had “no reason” to doubt the claim.

Mr Molins said Abballa stabbed 42-year-old Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, a police commander, outside his home.

He then went inside and took Mr Salvaing’s partner and three-year-old son hostage.

He killed the woman, who was a police administrator in the suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie, but did not harm the boy.

Abballa recorded a 12-minute video related to the attack and posted it on Facebook, Mr Molins said, but did not provide further details or confirm an earlier report from a police official who said Abballa posted the video on live-streaming service Facebook Live.

Mr Molins said three people — ages 27, 29, and 44 — were detained in the probe. He did not provide any other details.

French president François Hollande said earlier it was “incontestably a terrorist act” and that France faces a threat “of a very large scale”.

The country has been on particularly high alert as it hosts Euro 2016, and is still under a state of emergency after the November IS attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

“France is not the only country concerned [by the terrorist threat], as we have seen, again, in the United States, in Orlando,” he said.

In 2013, Abballa, 25, from Mantes-la-Jolie, was sentenced to three years in prison for recruiting fighters for jihad in Pakistan, according to two police officials.

A resident of the building where he lived said police raided it early yesterday. Neighbourhood resident Henriette Yenge, who lives and works near the building, said she would say hello to Abballa when he went to the mosque around the corner.

“He was a neighborhood kid,” she said. “I was surprised it was him. It’s sad to see things like that.”

A Facebook profile bearing the name Larossi Abballa — which vanished from the internet early yesterday — showed a photo of a smiling, bearded man.

Two recent posts featured videos critical of Israel and Saudi Arabia. The last publicly available post was a mock-up of the Euro 2016 logo, highlighting what the poster said were masonic and occult symbols.

“Some will say we see evil everywhere!” Abballa said in a message posted about 18 hours before the attack.

Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve visited the police station in Les Mureaux where Mr Salvaing worked. He said more than 100 people seen as potential threats have been arrested in France this year, including in recent weeks.

Monday’s attack shook police officers, and Mr Cazeneuve said they would be allowed to take home their service weapons.


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