The Latest: Belgium seeks 2 new suspects in Paris attacks

AP News
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Posted: Dec 04, 2015 11:53 AM
The Latest: Belgium seeks 2 new suspects in Paris attacks

PARIS (AP) — The latest developments regarding the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq: All times local:

5:50 p.m.

Belgian authorities are searching for two new suspects in the Paris attacks probe, both of whom used fake identity cards.

The Belgian Federal Prosecutor's office says Friday the men, carrying bogus IDs with the names of Samir Bouzid and Soufiane Kayal, had been traveling in a Mercedes with another at-large suspect, Salah Abdeslam, when the car was checked Sept. 9 at the Hungarian-Austrian border.

It says the same identity of Kayal was used to rent a house in the Belgian town of Auvelais that authorities have searched as a possible site for making the suicide bombs used in the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.

Belgian authorities said about 6 p.m. on Nov. 17, the false identity card in the name of Bouzid was used at a Western Union office in the Brussels area to send a 750-euro ($817) money order to Hasna Ait Boulhacen, cousin of the purposed attack ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

Both Boulhacen and Abaaoud died on Nov. 18 when French police stormed their hideout in a Paris suburb.

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4:30 p.m.

Spain's Interior Ministry says police have arrested two inmates on suspicion that they used their prison leave to spread propaganda for the Islamic State group.

A ministry statement said a 24-year-old Moroccan was arrested Friday while on leave from Martutene prison in the northern city of San Sebastian. A 32-year-old Spaniard was arrested in the prison. The ministry said the two are serving sentences for common crimes.

The statement said they held meetings with people outside the prison at which they showed video recordings of IS executions and attacks and praised the group's actions. One of the inmates posted a video on social networks showing him burning his passport.

The ministry says Spain has arrested more than 90 suspected Islamic extremists so far this year.

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3 p.m.

A French journalist held hostage by Islamic State extremists says the intensification of airstrikes in Syria risks pushing people into the hands of the Islamist extremists. Nicolas Henin, who was held captive for 10 months, described the strikes as a "trap."

The French government ratcheted up airstrikes after the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, and this week was joined by Britain. Germany voted Friday to help the fight against IS in a noncombat role.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Henin questioned what the airstrikes could accomplish. He says the bombings risk pushing the Syrian people straight into the arms of Islamic State militants, who he says position themselves as the only group able to protect them.

Henin says "it's counterproductive to increase the strikes. We cannot go forward. We cannot also stop them, go backward. This is the definition of a trap."

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2:40 p.m.

A cafe where five people were killed by a squad of Islamic extremist gunmen terrorizing central Paris has reopened.

La Bonne Biere, a corner cafe in the trendy central Paris district targeted by the gunmen, opened for business again on Friday morning. Since the attacks, the shuttered cafe has been piled high with flowers, like the other sites of the Nov. 13 attacks that left 130 people dead.

Paule Zlotnik, a neighboring shopkeeper, praised the decision: "It's time they open and that we continue life as it was before."

In surveillance video seen by The Associated Press, two gunmen in black calmly approached La Bonne Biere that night, firing deliberately on the outdoor tables before turning back toward a car that can be seen rolling slowly behind them.

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2:05 p.m.

Poland's new defense minister says Poland is in talks with France over supporting that nation's struggle against Islamic State extremists.

Minister Antoni Macierewicz said Friday that his French counterpart has "named his expectations" and talks are underway. He says "we will show solidarity. We will definitely not allow terrorism, and particularly the political forces in the world that are the source of terrorism, to win."

Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said Poland is not expected to contribute in a military way to the coalition fighting IS.

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1:40 p.m.

With a country still reeling after the worst attacks in recent memory, France has issued a step-by-step guide on "how to react in the event of a terrorist attack."

Posted Friday on the government's website, the guide has three-step instructions informing citizens they should "escape, hide, alert" in the face of danger.

It features diagrams suggesting ways to better protect oneself — such as obstructing doorways with sofas, turning android devices to silent, hiding low under windows and not running toward police officers.

The guide can be downloaded at http://www.gouvernement.fr/reagir-attaque-terroriste.

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12:50 p.m.

A new project allows Spaniards to anonymously tip off authorities about suspected radicals, part of efforts to step up the country's campaign against Islamic extremists.

The Interior Ministry said Friday that Spaniards can now contact the Intelligence Center for Terrorism and Organized Crime through a website, a mobile app or a free telephone hotline, which will be monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Spain's internal security chief Jorge Fernandez Diaz also told his EU counterparts in Brussels that the government is also mounting a campaign to discredit the propaganda issued by the social media-savvy Islamic State group. The Spanish government will use its social media sites to show what it said was "the real situation" in territories occupied by IS.

Similar campaigns are being run by the United States, Britain and France.

Europe's worst attack by Islamic militants occurred in Spain in 2004, when bombs on Madrid commuter trains killed 191 people.

(This item has been corrected to add the minister's first name, Jorge.)

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12:40 p.m.

The Dutch government is weighing whether to broaden its involvement in the international campaign against the Islamic State group.

The Netherlands already has F-16 jets taking part in airstrikes against IS targets in Iraq, but Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert says France and the United States have asked if the Dutch can do more.

Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said Friday that the government "will look at whether we can make an effective contribution" but added "I don't want to restrict the debate to only bombing over Syria."

Koenders says Islamic State cannot be fought with bombs alone, "you also have to look at cutting off oil revenues, finances."

Hennis-Plasschaert says the ruling two-party Dutch coalition will consider the question in "the coming days, weeks. I don't know how much time we need."

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11:35 a.m.

Germany's Parliament has approved plans to provide military assistance in the fight against Islamic State militants, including reconnaissance jets and up to 1,200 support personnel.

Lawmakers voted Friday 445 to 146 to approve the plan crafted by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet this week following a pledge of greater support in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris, which IS has claimed responsibility for.

Germany plans to send up to six Tornado reconnaissance planes and tanker aircraft, as well as a frigate to help protect the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the eastern Mediterranean, but won't actively engage in combat.

Two German Tornados and a tanker are expected to be sent to Turkey's Incirlik air base next week but won't be fully operational until next month. The frigate's also to be in place soon.

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10:55 a.m.

French President Francois Hollande is visiting the aircraft carrier launching airstrikes against the Islamic State group.

The Charles de Gaulle has launched raids against Islamic State bases since the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 in Paris. The president's office said Hollande would pay a visit to the ship on Friday.

The government announced it was deploying the ship, France's only aircraft carrier, to the region a week before the attacks.

The French carrier had previously been deployed in the Persian Gulf from February to April this year, conducting between 15 and 20 flights per day, according to the French military.