PARIS — French police are hunting for a second fugitive directly involved in the deadly Paris attacks, officials said Tuesday, as France made an unprecedented demand that its European Union allies support its military action against the Islamic State group.
The disclosure of a second possible fugitive, whom authorities said they hadn’t identified, came as French and Russian warplanes pounded the jihadi group’s self-declared capital in Syria. President Vladimir Putin ordered a Russian military cruiser to work with France on fighting the militants in Syria and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hinted at a possible Syrian cease-fire so the world could focus on crushing IS.
French and Belgian police were already looking for a key suspect, 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, whose suicide-bomber brother, Brahim, died in the attacks Friday night that killed at least 129 people and left over 350 wounded in Paris. Islamic state militants have claimed responsibility for the carnage.
Seven attackers died that night — three near the national stadium, three inside the Bataclan concert hall and one at a restaurant nearby. A team of gunmen also opened fire at nightspots in one of Paris’ trendiest neighbourhoods.
However, French officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday that an analysis of the attacks showed that one person directly involved in them was unaccounted for. The three officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to provide details about the ongoing investigation, said the second fugitive has not been identified.
The Paris attacks have galvanized international determination to confront the militants.
The French government invoked a never-before-used article of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty obliging members of the 28-nation bloc to give “aid and assistance by all the means in their power” to a member country that is “the victim of armed aggression on its territory.”
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said all 27 of France’s EU partners responded positively.
“Every country said: I am going to assist, I am going to help,” Drian said.
Arriving for talks in Brussels, Greek Defence Minister Panagiotis Kammenos told reporters that the Paris attacks were a game-changer for the bloc. “This is Sept. 11 for Europe,” he said.
Paris police said 16 people had been arrested in connection to the deadly attacks, and police have carried out 104 raids since a state of emergency was declared Saturday.
French military spokesman Col. Gilles Jaron said the latest airstrikes in the Islamic State group’s de-facto capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa, destroyed a command post and training camp. NATO allies were sharing intelligence and working closely with France, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said.
In Moscow, Putin ordered the Russian missile cruiser Moskva, currently in the Mediterranean, to start co-operating with the French military on operations in Syria. His order came as Russia’s defence minister said its warplanes fired cruise missiles on militant positions in Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo provinces. IS has positions in Aleppo province, while the Nusra militant group is in Idlib.