World powers unite for war on IS fanatics


Military action against Islamic State (IS) in Syria has grown a step closer after the United Nations Security Council approved plans to redouble its efforts to prevent further attacks from extremists.

The council backed a French-sponsored resolution designed to "to combat by all means this unprecedented threat", saying IS "constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security".

It was hailed as an "important moment" by Prime Minister David Cameron as he seeks to bolster support for UK air strikes in Syria.

Mr Cameron said the vote "shows beyond doubt the breadth of international support for doing more in Syria and for decisive action to eradicate" IS, which he described as "this evil death cult".

France will be on a state of high alert until well into the new year after the country's senate voted to extend a state of emergency for three months following last week's deadly attacks.

The move expands powers to allow police to carry out arrests and searches, while authorities can ban the movement of people and vehicles at specific times and places.

The death toll from the terrorist atrocities rose to 130, one week since Islamic State (IS) militants attacked a concert hall, the French national stadium and several cafes and restaurants in Paris, leaving hundreds injured. Ninety remain in intensive care.

Seven days on, Parisians replaced the sounds of explosions and gunfire in their streets and squares with music, noise and light as they gathered in their thousands to stand together and defy the terrorists.

Large crowds converged at the scenes of the attacks and landmarks across the French capital at 9.20pm (8.20pm British time) to hold vigils and mark the exact moment last week that IS militants set in motion a series of co-ordinated attacks.

Bouquets were laid at the Place de la Republique, lit by the flames of hundreds of candles, and people opened bottles of wine on the street to toast those who died in the massacres.

At the cafe La Belle Equipe, where one of the gun attacks took place, mourners broke into a round of applause at a memorial for the victims.

But despite the defiance, fear remains in the air as politicians and intelligence services desperately try to bolster security measures across Europe.

Belgian authorities have charged three people in relation to the Paris attacks and the country's national Crisis Centre has raised its terrorism alert to its highest level in the Brussels region, which indicates a "serious and immediate threat".

The city was home to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, the suspected mastermind behind the Paris attacks, who died in a shoot-out with police at a flat in Paris on Wednesday.

Yesterday a third body was discovered in the wreckage of the flat in a northern suburb of the city. 

The three dead included Abaaoud and his female cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen, 26, but the third person's identity and gender is yet to be established.

It was initially thought that Aitboulahcen blew herself up during the gunfight. However Paris prosecutors said she was killed in the police raid but was not a suicide bomber. 

Amid the widespread tightening of security, European Union interior ministers have agreed to draw up plans for the "systematic control" of all people entering the bloc after it was disclosed that Belgium-born Abaaoud was able to slip into the country undetected.

French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the measure - which would affect everyone crossing the external borders of the travel-free Schengen zone - represented a "crucial" change.

It emerged that two of the three suicide bombers who targeted the Stade de France as France played Germany in a football friendly passed through Greece on the same day last month, news which will fan calls for tighter border security.

Paris prosecutors said the men were checked by authorities in Greece on October 3. Greek officials have previously said that a man carrying a Syrian passport with the name Ahmad Al-Mohammad was processed on the island of Leros on the same date, having arrived there from Turkey.

The passport was found next to the body of a suicide bomber at the French national stadium and investigators are trying to ascertain whether it was genuine.

Police in France have carried out 793 raids since last week's attacks, the interior ministry revealed.

In five nights of targeted operations 90 people have been held and 174 weapons seized, including 18 military-style firearms, 84 rifles and 68 handguns.

A further 164 people have been placed under house arrest under state of emergency powers, and 250,000 euro (£175,000) were seized.

The scale of the international Islamist threat has been underlined by an attack by gunmen on an international hotel in Bamako, the capital of the west African country of Mali - a former French colony - which left at least 19 dead and saw scores of hostages taken. Two attackers were also killed.

Authorities there have declared a 10-day state of emergency following the attack, which an extremist group that split from al Qaida's North Africa branch two years ago led by Algerian terrorist Moktar Belmoktar claimed to have carried out.