France: Paris terror suspect identified as Algerian illegal

This picture is believed to show the suspected terrorist shot and arrested in connection with this morning’s attack in Paris, which saw six soldiers injured when a BMW mowed down their patrol.

Hamou Bachir, 36, is under armed guard in hospital after he was ‘seriously wounded’ in a fierce gunfight close to the northern port town of Boulogne-sur-Mer after he was intercepted driving towards Calais.

Bachir, who was not known to the security services, was shot five times, with one officer also hit by a bullet, before being arrested, according to a security source.

The suspect – who also uses the name Benlatreche – is thought to be an illegal immigrant who was subject to a ‘foreigner infraction’ notice meaning he faced deportation to Algeria, which used to be French colony.

A search is underway at a building believed to be connected to Bachir in Sartrouville.

‘The suspect was driving a black BMW identical to the one used in the attack on the soldiers,’ said the source.

‘Its number plate was recorded by video surveillance, and put out to police forces around the country.’

Bachir was speeding along the A16 motorway, towards Calais, when specialist firearms officers from nearby Lille and Rouen engaged.

The suspect is thought to have a mad ‘a sudden movement’ as if he was taking a gun out, and then he tried to escape.

It is then that bullets were fired at the man. It is not known whether he was in fact carrying a weapon.

‘The arrested individual, born in 1980, is suspected to be the culprit of the assault in the Levallois-Perret area of Paris at around 8am,’ a security source said.

‘He was driving the vehicle we were looking for and tried to flee,’ the source added, explaining why police opened fire.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has since confirmed that police had arrested the suspect behind the attack while speaking to MPs during parliament question time.

The anti-terrorism unit of the Paris prosecutors’ office has launched a probe into the ‘attempted killings… in relation to a terrorist undertaking’, the office said in a statement.

The driver of a dark BMW is alleged to have been waiting for the soldiers to leave the barracks in Levallois-Perret, a northwestern suburb of the capital, before speeding into the group.

Two soldiers were seriously injured in the incident, which took place at about 8am local time on Wednesday.

Levallois-Perret is meant to be one of the most secure towns in France, as it contains the headquarters of the DGSI (General Directorate for Internal Security), the country’s main counter-terrorism intelligence agency.

The security initiative was set up in 2015 following a series of atrocities inParis carried out by Islamic State and Al-Qaeda operatives.

‘I heard a huge crash which I thought was the sound of scaffolding being put up,’ said Thierry Chappe, an eyewitness to today’s attack.

‘Then I saw soldiers scattered all over the ground’.

Police officials said witnesses described seeing a dark-coloured BMW with one person inside waiting in a cul-de-sac near a building used for soldiers from the Sentinelle security force, which was created after the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015.

The BMW drove into the group as they were leaving their barracks, before speeding off.

Eye-witnesses have described horrific scenes of injured soldiers on the ground and troops chasing after the speeding car.

Nadia LeProhon said she was startled by a loud crash outside her building in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, and rushed outside to see two soldiers on the ground.

Other soldiers ran after a speeding car, shouting ‘After him! Follow that car!’

She said the scream that followed the crash was still echoing through her head. ‘I’ll never forget that scream – a scream of pain and distress.’

Jean-Claude Veillant, resident of an apartment building directly above the scene, witnessed part of the attack.

‘I heard a loud noise, the sound of scraping metal. Shortly after, I saw one of the badly wounded lying in front of the Vigipirate (army patrol) vehicle and another one behind it receiving treatment,’ he told reporters.

The mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany, said the incident had ‘without any doubt’ been deliberate.  ‘It’s an odious act of aggression,’ Balkany told BFM TV.

Mr Balkany claimed that the driver of the BMW had ‘pre-positioned itself in the alley (where the barracks is located) and barreled into them,’ adding that the car had ‘accelerated very quickly’.

France’s Defence Minister Florence Parly has condemned the suspected terrorist attack as a ‘cowardly act’.

The incident ‘does nothing to dent soldiers’ determination to work for the security of the French people,’ she said in a statement.

Levallois-Perret is home to France’s main intelligence agency and a staging point for soldiers assigned to protect prominent sites after recent attacks.

The attack happened as a three-soldier night patrol handed over their duties to a day patrol of the same number, said local council spokesman David-Xavier Weiss.

Mr Weiss said that the layout of the street had prevented the person behind the wheel from injuring more people.

‘The arrangement of the square meant that the attacker did not have enough of a run-up to cause more damage,’ said Mr Weiss.

He said the men were standing next to a temporary barracks set up by the council for soldiers taking part in Opération Sentinelle.

‘It gives them a place to change, eat and rest,’ he said. The municipal building is less than a mile from the anti-terrorist HQ.

A security perimeter has now been set up around the area, with shops and homes evacuated, and a local park shut.

The weekly council of ministers was taking place at the Elysée Palace as the first reports emerged.

Opération Sentinelle is an anti-terrorism force made up of 10,000 soldiers and 4,700 police and gendarmes, deployed following the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.

In January 2015, two brothers who had vowed allegiance to Al-Qaeda gunned down 12 people at satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

In November that year, some 130 people were killed in a wave of shootings and bombings in Paris, a carnage claimed by the Islamic State group (ISIS).

France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015 and has seen a string of attacks on Opération Sentinelle forces who have been regularly targeted, particularly those guarding key tourist sites.

On Saturday, an 18-year-old with a history of psychological problems was arrested at the Eiffel Tower after brandishing a knife and shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greatest).

He later told investigators he wanted to kill a soldier.

In February, a man armed with a machete attacked four soldiers on patrol at Paris’s Louvre Museum, while in April another extremist shot and killed a policeman on the Champs Elysees.

In June, a 40-year-old Algerian doctorate student who had pledged allegiance to IS attacked a policeman with a hammer outside Notre Dame cathedral.

France is part of the US-led international coalition fighting IS and has carried out air strikes against the extremist group in Syria.

(Source: Daily Mail)



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