The Latest: Facebook working with French authorities

AP News
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Posted: Jun 14, 2016 1:32 PM
The Latest: Facebook working with French authorities

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the death of two police officers in an apparent extremist attack in France (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

Facebook says it is working closely with the French authorities as they investigate the killing of two police officials by a man who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a 12-minute video that police said was posted on the social media site.

The video appears to have been taken by attacker Larossi Abballa inside the victims' home in the Paris suburb of Magnanville as police closed in.

Facebook says that whenever "terrorist content" is reported, it is removed as quickly as possible, and that the company treats take-down requests by law enforcement with the highest urgency.

The social networking company has previously said it doesn't automatically screen material that's posted on its site, but it provides ways for users to report content they believe is in violation of the site's rules — usually with a digital link or flag that users can click to initiate a report.

Facebook rules forbid posts by "terrorist groups" or any posts that support such groups or violence, or posts in which users "celebrate" crimes they've committed themselves. The company says its "community standards" team reviews reports and removes content if violations are found.

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6 p.m.

Police carried out several hours of raids in a Paris suburb after one of its residents killed two police officials and claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Police raided the apartment building of attacker Larossi Abballa in the town of Mantes-la-Jolie early Tuesday. Later, more than a dozen masked police surrounded a building in a housing project in another part of town and spent about five hours searching it. Afterward, they emerged with a man whose head was covered in a piece of clothing to conceal his face.

A young pregnant woman wearing a hijab and a body covering Islamic robe said her husband had been taken into custody from the building in the Musiciens neighborhood, and her home was searched by the judicial police. The woman, who refused to be identified, said her husband knew Abballa, though police at the scene would not say whether the raids were linked directly to the police attack.

Police say Abballa killed a policeman and his partner, a police administrator, with a knife. Abballa was killed in a police raid late Monday after taking the woman and a 3-year-old child hostage.

Before the raid in Musiciens, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said three people in the suspect's entourage had been detained for questioning.

— By Elaine Ganley in Paris

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4:43 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande said he wants additional security efforts to be deployed and vigilance to be increased to "its highest level" after two police officials were killed by an attacker claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Hollande spoke Tuesday in the Elysee Palace as police are investigating the Monday night attack in the Paris suburb of Magnanville.

Hollande did not give details about the extra security measures. France is already under a state of emergency after IS attacks on Paris in November, and 90,000 security forces are deployed for the European Championship soccer tournament.

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4:35 p.m.

Islamic State's Amaq news agency has released a video showing the suspect in the knifing of a French police couple confessing to the killings.

The video of Larossi Abballa, released after his death, appears to be filmed inside the home of the couple as security forces closed in.

In the video, Abballa says: "I just killed a police officer and his wife."

He adds: "The police are currently surrounding me."

The video was edited, and the victims do not appear. Neither does the couple's young son, who survived the attack.

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3:50 p.m.

A Frenchman identified as the killer of two police officials stayed at prayers so long at his neighborhood mosque the day of the attack that mosque employees had to make him leave. The rector of the small mosque said Larossi Abballa attended services rarely in recent months, but showed up to pray a few hours before the killings.

Rector Mohamed Droussi said Abballa was reading the Quran for a long time, and was the last one to leave. Droussi said, "I took the key and I said, 'we are closing."

Droussi said he is concerned about radicalization, and the mosque often addresses the issue, to "ask the youth to stay on the right path." The mosque is around the corner from Abballa's apartment building in a well-kept, working class neighborhood of the Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie.

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2:55 p.m.

France's anti-terrorism prosecutor says that a 25-year-old man identified as the killer of two police officials recorded a 12-minute video about the attack, claiming allegiance to Islamic State, and posted it on Facebook.

Francois Molins said Larossi Abballa posted the video late Monday while he was in a standoff with police in the town of Magnanville. Molins did not provide details of what the video contained.

A Facebook account belonging to a Larossi Abballa was taken down Tuesday.

Molins says Abballa killed a policeman then killed his partner after taking her and a 3-year-old child hostage.

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2:40 p.m.

The Paris prosecutor Francois Molins says that a Frenchman suspected of killing two police officials had declared allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and threatened to kill non-believers.

Molins told reporters Tuesday that attacker Larossi Abballa made the declaration in exchanges with police during a standoff Monday night.

Molins said Abballa responded to IS calls to "kill non-believers where they live," and with their families.

IS news agency Amaq cited an unnamed source as saying an IS fighter carried out the attack. Prosecutor's office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said French authorities have "no reason" to doubt the claim.

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2:35 p.m.

A French prosecutor says that the man accused of murdering two police workers at their home outside of Paris had a list of targets, including journalists and public figures.

Prosecutor Francois Molins says that searches of Larossi Abballa's home had tuned up a list of "rappers, journalists, police officers and public personalities."

Molins give no further detail on the list, or whether it had specific names.

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1:40 p.m.

Residents of Larossi Abballa's well-kept Paris suburban apartment building are rattled and confused after he targeted police in what the president is calling a new terrorist attack.

Armed, helmeted police raided the building in Mantes-la-Jolie early Tuesday, according to one neighbor, a 23-year-old garbage truck driver who did not want to be publicly identified because of the ongoing investigation.

The neighbor says Abballa had lived in the building, around the corner from a small mosque, with his parents and at least one sister for about three years.

Henriette Yenge, who works at an association on the same street, said she would say hello to Abballa when he went to the mosque. "He was a neighborhood kid. I was surprised it was him. It's sad to see things like that."

Police say Abballa stabbed a policeman Monday night then holed up in a house with the commander's partner and 3-year-old child. The woman and Abballa were found killed after a three-hour siege and police raid.

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12:45 p.m.

The mayor of the suburban town where two people were killed in an apparent extremist attack says the woman who died had recently been organizing a soccer tournament in honor of an officer who had been killed 18 years ago.

Mayor Michel Lebouc told reporters that he had come to know the woman and her police commander husband well after they moved in some two or three years ago. He says that it seemed that Islamist fanatics were intent on hitting "everywhere."

"They hit the state. But they also hit where we least expect them," he said.

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12:20 p.m.

Authorities say that two people have been detained in the investigation into a knife attack in a Paris suburb in which two police officials died.

Two police officials said those detained were close to the suspected attacker, 25-year-old Larossi Abballa. The officials were not authorized to be publicly named speaking about an ongoing investigation.

No other information was immediately available about those detained.

Abballa is a Frenchman who had been convicted and imprisoned for recruiting fighters for jihad in Pakistan, according to police accounts.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday that the investigation was advancing as quickly as possible "to put eventual accomplices out of action."

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12:05 p.m.

French police officers are expressing fear after two police officials died in an attack by a knife-wielding Frenchman with a past terrorism conviction.

"Today every police officer is a target," Yves Lefebvre of police union Unite SGP Police-FO told The Associated Press in the area of the attack. He says attackers are "professionalizing" and can now find police in their homes.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday that police officers would be allowed to take home their service weapons after the Monday night attack in a Paris suburb.

French police have been targeted in multiple attacks in recent years.

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11:25 a.m.

Two French officials say a man with a past terrorist conviction shot video during a lethal knife attack on two police officials.

One of the officials said the assailant posted the video on Facebook Live, the social media site's live feed. His account has been suspended.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

One official says that at one point during the attack, the assailant puzzled over what to do with the couple's 3-year-old child, who survived.

The Islamic State's Amaq news agency cited an unnamed source as saying an IS fighter carried out the attack, but the extremist jihadist group has not officially claimed responsibility.

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9:30 a.m.

French President Francois Hollande says that the stabbing attack that left two police officials dead was "incontestably a terrorist act."

Speaking at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, Hollande said Tuesday that France was facing a terror threat "of a very large scale."

"France is not the only country concerned (by the terrorist threat), as we have seen, again, in the United States, in Orlando," he said.

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9:15 a.m.

Two French officials have identified the man suspected of killing police in a deadly attack outside Paris as Larossi Abballa, a 25-year-old who had a past terrorism conviction for recruiting fighters for jihad in Pakistan.

The two officials said Abballa was from the western Paris suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie and was convicted in 2013 to three years in prison, including six months suspended for association with a terrorist enterprise. The officials were not authorized to be publicly named discussing ongoing investigations.

Abballa is suspected of stabbing a police officer outside his house in the suburb of Magnanville. Abballa was killed in a police raid on the house. The police officer's female partner, also a police official, was also found dead.

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8:40 a.m.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has denounced what he called "an abject terrorist act" after an attacker killed two police officials outside Paris, and warned that France, Europe and the West remain under a high threat of the kind of extremist violence that hit an Orlando night club.

Speaking after an emergency meeting convened Tuesday morning by French President Francois Hollande, Cazeneuve said more than 100 people seen as potential threats have been arrested in France this year, including in recent weeks.

France has been on particularly high alert as it hosts Europe's top sporting event, the monthlong European Championship soccer tournament, and is still under a state of emergency after deadly Islamic State attacks in November.

The threat "is high in France, it's high in Europe, it's high in the Western world as shown by the events that happened 48 hours ago in the United States," Cazeneuve said.