Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned on Thursday of the danger of an attack in France using “chemical or biological weapons”, in a speech to lawmakers debating the extension of a state of emergency.
We must not rule anything out,” Valls said. “There is also the risk from chemical or biological weapons,” he added, as parliament debated on measures to be taken in the wake of the Islamist attacks in Paris.
Valls also called on Europe to urgently adopt measures to share airline passenger information in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris.”More than ever, it’s time for Europe to adopt the text… to guarantee the tractability of movements, including within the (European) Union. It’s a condition of our collective security,” he told lawmakers debating the extension of a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, police in France are going to be allowed to carry weapons when they are off duty, according to a directive from police commanders issued Thursday.They will be allowed to use their guns in the event of a terror attack providing they wear a police armband to avoid “any confusion”, according to the note seen by AFP.
Valls’ statement comes on the same day on which Belgian police staged six raids on Thursday in the Brussels area linked to a suicide bomber who blew himself up outside the French national stadium last week during the Paris attacks, prosecutors said.
“They are linked to Bilal Hadfi,” a prosecutor told AFP, adding that the raids targeted places involving Hadfi’s family, friends and other people directly linked to him. Investigators say Hadfi was a French national who was living in Belgium and had spent time in Syria.
On Wednesday, the French police also raided a suburban Paris apartment where the suspected mastermind of last week’s attacks Abdelhamid Abaaoud was believed to be holed up. The siege ended with two deaths and seven arrests but no clear information on Abaaoud’s fate.
Among the dead was a woman who blew herself up with an explosive vest and a man hit by projectiles and grenades at the end of the raid, which began before dawn and continued for more than seven hours at the apartment building in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.
Paris prosecutor François Molins said the raid was launched after information from tapped telephone conversations, surveillance and witness accounts indicated that the suspected attacks planner, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, might be in a safe house in the district.
Authorities could not immediately confirm whether Abaaoud, a Belgian Islamic State militant, was killed or arrested as late as Thursday morning.
Abaaoud was believed to be in Syria after a January police raid in Belgium, but bragged in Islamic State propaganda of his ability to move back and forth between Europe and Syria undetected.
With inputs from agencies