7 ‘terrorists’ dead in Paris attacks, Syrian passport found: prosecutor

French media also said one of the attackers was French after verifying his fingerprints

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Seven “terrorists” were killed in attacks that caused the deaths of at least 129 people in Paris and a Syrian passport was found on one of the assailants, the French capital’s prosecutor said Saturday.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said the attackers had worked in three teams, striking seven times in quick succession on Friday night. The prosecutor meanwhile said it was not clear to whom the passport belonged to.

Previously, the prosecutor said there could be eight gunmen killed across the capital, with more still at large behind seven attacks in Paris.

Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent initially reported that Syrian and Egyptian passports were found near the bodies of the assailants involved in a wave of deadly attacks on Paris.

French police so far reported that a Syrian passport was found but did not say where exactly it was found, although they indicated a possible Syrian connection was a working hypothesis for investigators after assailants hit six separate locations in Paris late Friday, killing 128.

However, Reuters citing sources close to the investigation said the passport was found near the body of one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up on Friday near a Paris soccer stadium.

On Saturday, a Greek minister said the Syrian passport found by police at the scene of the mass shooting in a Paris concert hall belonged to an asylum seeker who registered on a Greek island in October.

“We confirm that the Syrian passport holder came through the Greek island of Leros on October 3 where he was registered under EU rules,” said a statement issued by Nikos Toskas, the minister for citizen protection.

French police said the document was found “near the body of one of the attackers” in the investigation into the main attack of Friday’s carnage, at the Bataclan concert hall, where 82 people were killed.

European security officials had long feared that jihadists could take advantage of the mass migration influx, mainly from war-torn Syria, that Europe has been experiencing since the beginning of the year.

A Greek police source on Saturday said Athens had forwarded to French authorities the fingerprints of the passport holder registered on Leros in October, to check whether he was actually involved in Friday’s attacks.

Greece’s junior minister for migration Yiannis Mouzalas had admitted in September that it would be “foolish” to completely discount the possibility of jihadists sneaking into Europe among the refugee wave.

Over 800,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year, with over 3,400 dying in the process.

But Mouzalas noted that the number of Europeans joining extremist groups in the Middle East was far higher.

“The opposite is happening. They leave from here and go over there,” he said.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday insisted that the refugees fleeing Syria “are hunted by the same terrorists” that struck in Paris on Friday.

“We must find solutions to the drama of the people who leave their homes, hunted by the same terrorists, and drown in the Mediterranean,” Tsipras said in a televised address.

Two men who French police are seeking to trace in connection with the Paris attacks registered as refugees with Greek authorities earlier this year, the Greek police confirmed on Saturday.

French authorities had asked their Greek counterparts to check a passport and fingerprints of one man and the fingerprints of another who were thought to have registered in Greece, which is the main entry point into Europe for Syrian refugees.

A French national is also believed to be among four men who stormed a Paris concert hall overnight, killing at least 82 people, police and a source close to the investigation said Saturday.

Investigators said they found the body of a French national who was known to intelligence services and indicated he was likely one of four men who attacked the Bataclan concert hall late Friday.

They did not give details of his identity or his background.

Bataclan concern hall was one of the areas hit where witnesses said the gunmen shouted to the crowd: “Allahu Akbar. We’re stronger than the French.” Other witnesses also said the gunmen explained their violent acts were in response to France over Syria.

Some 300 people were hospitalized following the deadly attacks in Paris of whom 80 are in “critical” condition, the city’s hospital authority said Saturday.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for a coordinated assault by the gunmen and bombers, and vowed that France will continue to be a target for the militant group.

France furthered its involvement in its fight against ISIS militants. On Sunday, the French army bombed an oil supply center held by ISIS in eastern Syria after it deployed aircraft carrier in anti-ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria.

There is no information to contradict the French government’s initial assessment that ISIS was behind attacks in Paris that killed 129 and injured many more, the White House said on Saturday.

“The team reviewed the intelligence picture, noting that we had no information to contradict the initial French assessment of ISIL’s responsibility,” the White House said in a statement after President Barack Obama met with his National Security Council.

It added that while there was no specific or credible threat to the United States, officials had reviewed their “homeland security posture.”

Belgian police also raided Saturday a neighborhood of the capital Brussels in connection with the deadly attacks in Paris, public television RTBF reported.

The network quoted an unidentified source as saying up to three raids were being carried out in the Molenbeek district in connection with the Paris attacks.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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