French police hunt Paris suspect Abdeslam Salah

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A MANHUNT was under way last night for a terrorist on the run who escaped after Friday’s attacks in Paris which killed 129 people.

Police said Brussels-born Salah Abdeslam, 26, right, was dangerous and warned anyone who spotted him: “Do not intervene yourself.”

One of his brothers was among seven people arrested in Belgium yesterday, while a third brother died in the attacks.

Abdeslam rented a black Volkswagen Polo found parked at the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people were massacred.

It was reported last night that police had questioned and released him hours after the attacks when they pulled over a car near the Belgian border.

The development came as France launched major air strikes on the IS stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria.

Earlier, it was revealed Iraqi intelligence had warned US-led coalition countries of an imminent assault the day before the attacks.

Iraqi intelligence said Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had ordered an attack on coalition countries fighting against them in Iraq and Syria, as well as on Iran and Russia, “through bombings or assassinations or hostage taking in the coming days”.

Six senior Iraqi intelligence officials corroborated the information in the intelligence dispatch, and four of them said they had warned France specifically of a potential attack.

Police recovered three Kalashnikovs inside a second car used in the attacks, which injured more than 400 people, 42 of whom remain in intensive care.

The first of the terrorists who died was named as Omar Ismail Mostefai, 29, a petty criminal who was identified in 2010 as having links to radicalism. He was born in the Chartres region, south west of Paris, and was identified from fingerprints.

• READ MORE: Paris attacks: Events as they happened

His father, a brother and other relatives were still being questioned yesterday after being arrested on Saturday night.

French authorities said they had also formally identified one of the suicide attackers at the Stade de France and another man who attacked a restaurant in central Paris.

One of the men was 20 and the other was 31. Both were French and living in Belgium.

At least one lived in the St Jans Molenbeek area of the capital Brussels, which is considered a focal point for religious extremism and fighters going to Syria.

The men were among three teams that carried out co-ordinated attacks, wearing identical belts containing the explosive TATP. Seven suicide bombers blew themselves up – three near the Stade De France, three at the concert hall and one not far from it.

The revelations increased fears of the involvement of home-grown terrorism in the Paris killings.

French authorities are particularly concerned about the threat from hundreds of French Islamic radicals who have travelled to Syria and returned home with deadly skills. France has exported more such jihadis than any other European country.

All three gunmen in the January attacks on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris in which 17 people died were also French.

The discovery of the Kalashnikovs was made in Montreuil, a suburb about four miles east of central Paris.

They were found in a Seat car linked to the gun attacks on Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant in Rue Alibert in the city’s 10th district.

A special Mass was held at Notre Dame cathedral last night for families of victims and survivors. The church’s bells tolled as a special homage to the dead.

• READ MORE: Paris attacks: Scots women ‘hid in Bataclan cellar’

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, who led the service, said: “Our country knows the pain of mourning and must face barbarity propagated by fanatical groups.”

Earlier, the Eiffel Tower stood dark in a symbol of mourning as 3,000 extra troops were deployed across the city.

Elsewhere in Paris, a crowd of up to 250 people gathered for an impromptu candlelight vigil at the Place de La Republique, the site of a massive demonstration in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings. Bernard Chambel, 66, said there was a stark difference between the incidents. He said that while the January attack was against Jews, Friday “was an attack on a way of life – they shot without discrimination”.

Olivier Bas was among several hundred who gathered outside the concert hall. Despite Paris being quiet and jittery, he said he intended to go out for a drink “to show that they won’t win”.

One Muslim man visiting the Bataclan yesterday with his son said he wanted to show the ten-year-old that IS was not representative of Islam.

He said: “He cannot grow up thinking this was done in the name of Islam. Islam is peace. What happened here is not peace, it is hatred.”

French Muslim groups have denounced the attacks, which have been claimed by IS. Some are concerned they will prompt a backlash against France’s overwhelmingly moderate Muslim community.

A French survivor of the Bataclan concert hall said he was struck by how young the terrorists were. Julien Pearce, a journalist at Europe 1 radio, said of one of them: “He seemed very young. That’s what struck me, his childish face, very determined, cold, calm, frightening.”

Mr Pearce said he had escaped by running across the stage to an emergency exit. Looking back, he said he saw “dozens and dozens of entangled, bullet-riddled bodies in a pool of blood”.

A 12-year-old survivor of the Bataclan attack told how heard one of the terrorists mention Syria as he lay next to a dead body.

Oscar Leader, who was with his father John, thought to be Australian, said: “He said ‘You need to think about Syria’.”

Mr Leader said: “There was no chance of anybody being a hero because these guys were organised. One was covering the crowd, the other was doing the shooting.”

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