French police continue searches following nationwide anti-terror operation
French police have continued searches in the southern city of Cannes following simultaneous anti-terrorism raids across the country on Saturday.
A least one apartment and a car were searched on Sunday morning in Cannes, but there have been no new arrests, the police confirmed.
A resident of the apartment building near the city centre told the news agency AFP she heard a “noise resembling a door being exploded”, and saw officers in uniforms bearing the inscription of France’s counter-terrorism police unit, the GIPN.
The raids were carried out as part of investigations into a grenade attack on a Jewish grocery store at Sarcelles, near Paris, last month.
One person was injured in that attack, which came six months to the day since Mohamed Merah, a self-confessed Islamic terrorist, attacked a Jewish school in Toulouse.
Thirty-three year old Jérémie Louis-Sidney, whose DNA was found on the grenade, was killed during a shoot-out with police while being arrested at his apartment in Strasbourg on Saturday morning.
Police say two men aged 19 and 23 arrested in Cannes yesterday housed Louis-Sidney, who travelled on Wednesday from Cannes back to Strasbourg to return to his second religious wife.
Nine other people were also arrested during the raids that police say broke up a radical Islamist “cell”.
It is alleged that police uncovered a list of Jewish organisations in Paris that may have been the cell’s next targets.
A police source say investigators also searched the home of Louis-Sidney’s former female companion in Cannes, who is pregnant and already has a one-year old son.
An AFP photographer says the woman, whose face was covered by a black headscarf, returned to the home on Sunday in tears and stated that Louis-Sidney is “a good man”, and that she knew “nothing” of his activities.
The French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, told the private radio channel RTL that the raids were carried out to protect the security of France.
“The government is interested in everything that concerns the security of the French people, and we left nothing to chance,” he said.
“Some may consider what happened at the grocery store at Sarcelles was not that bad, but we mustn’t let anything pass.”
Ayrault also noted on Saturday that the operation had been planned over several weeks.
On Sunday, The President, François Hollande, received several Jewish community leaders at the Elysée palace, including the president of the Central Israelite Consistory of France, Joël Mergui.
Mergui said Jewish community has been given assurances that the government would take “extra security measures”.
The French President, François Hollande, has promised "the total mobilisation of the state to fight against all terrorism threats."