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France carries out raids over Paris attacks – Al Jazeera

Specialised counterterrorism units have launched coordinated raids across France and arrested at least nine people in connection with the deadly Paris attacks.

Monday’s early-morning raids took place in Calais, Toulouse, Paris, Jeumont and Grenoble where police blocked streets and searched houses looking for suspects involved in Friday’s attacks, which killed at least 129 people and wounded hundreds more.

Around 200 members of police tactical units surrounded an address in Toulouse according to Al Jazeera correspondent David Chater in Paris, and ammunition and a large amount of cash were also found at one of the locations.

Twenty police vans were used in the raid in Jeumont on the French-Belgian border where a house was searched, added Chater.

Earlier, reports emerged that a fugitive directly involved in the attacks was questioned and let go by police near the Belgian border.

French police had released a photo of Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old born in Brussels, who is on the run and too dangerous for anyone outside law enforcement to engage directly.

News of the manhunt came a day after people gathered across France to mark the nation’s second day of mourning following the coordinated attacks, apparently carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

He was suspected of renting the car that delivered attackers to the Bataclan concert hall where dozens of people were killed.

“Do not intervene,” warns the message issued on Sunday evening.

Abdeslam is thought to be directly involved in Friday’s attacks, French security officials told the Associated Press news agency.

He is one of three brothers believed to be involved in the killings; one was arrested in Belgium and another died in the attack, one official said.

Abdeslam is also under an international arrest warrant issued by Belgium.

Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan, reporting from Brussels on Sunday, said security officials indicated that there was an ongoing search operation in the Belgian capital for Abdeslam and other suspects.

Stepping up their hunt for information, authorities found several AK-47 assault rifles in the back of an abandoned SEAT car in an eastern suburb of Paris.

Witnesses said the car, found in Montreuil, was used by the attackers at multiple locations on Friday night, the AFP news agency reported.

French police had earlier identified Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 29-year-old Paris native, as one of the attackers.

Mostefai’s detached finger was found overnight at the Bataclan concert hall, the scene of the bloodiest attack.

The French citizen had been known to police for his alleged links to armed groups but had not been previously linked to violent activities.

Police are also holding six of the man’s relatives.

French authorities believe the attacks were planned abroad by ISIL, but have not yet confirmed the identities of others involved.

Belgian authorities, however, said that two of the attackers who died were Frenchmen who had lived in Brussels.

In Belgium, police said they have arrested seven people over their alleged links to the attacks and investigators have found that two cars used in the operation were rented in Belgium, they said.

ISIL purportedly claimed responsibility for the attacks shortly after the incident but has also not revealed the identities of the attackers.

Greek authorities have also confirmed that the holder of a Syrian passport found near the body of an armed man who died in the attacks had registered as a refugee on the island of Leros in October.

Greece identified the man as 25-year old Ahmad Almohammad, from the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib.

The attacks have intensified debate on Europe’s response to the refugee crisis. Marie Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front party, has called for a tightening of the country’s borders.(Al Jazeera)



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