France hunts for other terror accomplices

Updated

France vowed Monday “the hunt will go on” for any potential accomplices in the terror attacks that rocked Paris last week.

French Prime Minster Manuel Valls told France’s BFM TV there was “without a doubt” at least one accomplice in the deadly string of attacks last week in the French capital. “With regard to these terrorist acts – barbaric – the work for justice and the investigation continues … We think that there were actually probably accomplices,” he said. 

RELATED: Timeline of terror: France rocked by 54 hours of violence

Paris was rocked by 54 hours of terror last week, beginning Wednesday at the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, when brothers Chérif Kouachi, 32, and Säid Kouachi, 34, stormed the publication’s offices, ultimately killing 12 people. On Thursday, a gunman killed a traffic policewoman in a Paris suburb, an attack that has since been linked to the magazine shooting. And on Friday, the manhunt for suspects in the Charlie Hebdo massacre culminated in a dangerous standoff between French authorities and the Kouachi brothers, who were holed up in a printing shop north of Paris. At the same time, Amedy Coulibaly, an associate of the Kouachis, seized a kosher grocery store in Paris, killing four hostages before police stormed the market. Coulibaly was identified as a suspect in the Thursday shooting of the policewoman. Police killed the three gunmen in two simultaneous raids.

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BFN News reported that police and forensic teams are investigating every possible tie to the gunmen, swabbing their apartments and vehicles for DNA; samples from a number of different people were found. 

The search continues as Paris works to recover from a deadly, three-day string of terror attacks that killed 17 people in all. The terror level – which has been at its highest level since the Wednesday – will remain elevated, Valls said.

Valls’s vow to continue the hunt for potential accomplices comes as officials confirmed that a fourth suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, crossed the Turkish border into Syria on Thursday, the same day Coulibaly is believed to have killed the police officer.

Photos: The largest rally in France’s history

Upon entering the country, Turkish officials began following Boumeddiene and a man she was travelling with to the Turkish city of Sanliurfa, near the Turkish-Syrian border, where they lost track of the pair. Once France alerted Turkey to Boumeddiene’s suspected involvement in the attacks and gave them her phone information, they were able to again track her movements across the border into Syria, according to NBC News.

The attacks last week in Paris highlight the risk nations face from Westerners who pledge allegiance to groups like Al-Qaida and the Islamic State. That risk was on the minds of many at Sunday’s Unity March, where 44 heads of state and 77 foreign delegates marched together with millions of Parisians in what became the biggest rally in French history. 

Notably absent? Any senior White House official. The president and other top American leaders were criticized for not being present at the march, where leaders like the United Kingdom’s David Cameron, German’s Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, linked arms and walked together in a visually stunning sign of solidarity against violent extremism.

“Today, Paris is the capital of the world. The entire country will rise up,” French President Francois Hollande said.

RELATED: No senior White House official present at Unity March 

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris at the time but did not attend the march; the U.S. was represented by the American ambassador in the country.

Secretary of State John Kerry said early Monday that he already had a trip planned for later this week and thought criticism that he should have been there Sunday was “quibbling.”

“I want to emphasize that the relationship with France is not about one day or one particular moment, it’s an ongoing, long-time relationship that is deeply, deeply based in the shared values and particularly the commitment that we share, freedom of expression,” he said, noting that U.S. officials have been working to help French officials investigate the attack. I really think that you know this is sort of quibbling a little bit in the sense that our Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was there and marched, our ambassador was there and marched, many people from the embassy were there and marched.”

1/12/15, 11:58 AM ET

Does video show Paris suspect at airport?

Authorities in Istanbul say this surveillance video shows Hayat Boumeddiene entering Turkey ahead of attacks in France.

Charlie Hebdo, France, Francois Hollande and Paris

France hunts for other terror accomplices

Updated