Skip to main content

French parliament votes to extend state of emergency by 3 months

The 'mastermind' of the Paris attacks has reportedly been killed in a police raid
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls: 'We must not rule anything out' (AFP)

French lawmakers voted on Thursday to extend a state of emergency in the country for three months after the devastating attacks in Paris in which 129 people were killed. 

The state of emergency will be in place from 26 November although there will be scope to extend it further as needed. 

The vote came shortly before prosecutors announced that the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, had been killed in a Wednesday police raid. At least two people, including what is thought to be a woman who detonated an explosives vest, are believed to have been killed in the operation which lasted for seven hours and saw police rain down fire and grenades on a Paris apartment block. 

President Francois Hollande announced the initial state of emergency shortly after the massacre on Friday. 

The measure increases police powers and allows the government to clamp down on media and protests. Under previous legislation that dates back to the 1950s and was introduced as part of the response to the Algerian war of independence, the state of emergency could only be enacted for 12 days. 

However, last Friday's attacks have led to widespread calls for more security to prevent further attacks, which many commentators believe could be around the corner. 

Ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned on Thursday that France was at risk of a chemical or biological weapons attack.

"We must not rule anything out," Valls said. "There is also the risk from chemical or biological weapons."

He called on France's European Union partners to urgently adopt measures to share airline passenger information.

"More than ever, it's time for Europe to adopt the text... to guarantee the traceability of movements, including within the union. It's a condition of our collective security," he said.

Louisa Loveluck, a Middle East correspondent for the Telegraph newspaper, said that as yet there was no "evidence to suggest that the French have uncovered a specific plot involving the use of chemical weapons. This is, however, the sort of scenario that British counter-terrorism officials have apparently been monitoring closely in recent months.

"In Isil's [IS] self-declared 'caliphate', there the group has used a mustard agent - known colloquially as mustard gas - on several occasions, against both Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Syrian civilians," she wrote. "Theories abound as to where Isil got the weapons in the first place. One possibility is that they have been stolen from Syrian or Iraqi regime stockpiles. Another more worrying question centres around whether the group has developed the ability to make its own."

Citing security fears, the government has cancelled two mass rallies scheduled for 29 November and 12 December - the days before and after a key UN climate summit to be held outside Paris.

Raids in Belgium

Last Friday's attacks, Europe's second-deadliest terror attack in history, saw suicde bombers and gunmen targeted a concert hall, bars and restaurants and the Stade de France national stadium. 

As the Paris probe widened to countries across Europe, Belgian police staged six raids in the Brussels area linked to a suicide bomber who blew himself outside the French stadium, prosecutors said.

Italy was also looking for five suspects after an FBI tip-off about possible militant attacks on landmark sites including St Peter's Cathedral in the Vatican, the foreign minister said.

Under one of the measures being adopted in France, police officers will be allowed to carry weapons when they are off duty.

Officers will be allowed to use their guns in the event of an attack providing they wear a police armband to avoid "any confusion," according to a directive seen by AFP.

US warning

US intelligence meanwhile published a report showing it warned in May that IS was capable of carrying out the kind of large-scale coordinated attacks seen in Paris.

The assessment from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, in coordination with the FBI, specifically refers to Abaaoud as a ringleader of Belgian plotters and warned Europe was more at risk of attack than the United States.

Abaaoud was previously thought to be in Syria after fleeing raids in his native Belgium earlier this year.

IS released a new video threatening New York, and specifically Times Square, although police said there was no "current and specific" threat.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.