French authorities scrambled Saturday to identify the perpetrators of what President Francois Hollande has called an “act of war” against his country, worrying organizers of the sophisticated attacks may be plotting more attacks.
The Islamic State extremist group professed responsibility for the coordinated crimes late Friday at six sites across Paris, which left at least 128 dead and hundreds injured. Eight terrorists also were eliminated, but it was not clear whether there might be more insurgents or accomplices hiding in Paris suburbs.
Hollande also has accused ISIS, which has lashed out at nations opposing its effort to establish a “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.
But a French counterterrorism official said officials are still trying to find out whether the attackers who died in the onslaught were French residents and if they have helpers still waiting to strike. Security has been stepped up to guard against further violence.
Witnesses say the assailants who struck Paris late Friday evening were well-trained and calm and likely rehearsed their coordinated attacks across the French capital, prompting French counterterrorist officials to believe they were veterans of the Syrian civil war or had been trained by experienced jihadists.
As French intelligence and counterterror analysts are scrambling to identify the eight assailants and to establish their connections to other militants. They say speed is critical because other attacks may be in the offing, either in France or neighboring European countries.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a counterterror official told VOA that some of the gunmen have been identified but are not being named at this stage. Police said they discovered a Syrian passport near the body of one criminal, although fraudulent Syrian passports are often carried by would-be migrants into Europe.