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France Declares War on Radical Islam

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This article was originally posted in the New York Times:

PARIS — Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared Saturday that France was at war with radical Islam after the harrowing sieges that led to the deaths of three gunmen and four hostages the day before. New details emerged about the bloody final confrontations, and security forces remained on high alert.

“It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity,” Mr. Valls said during a speech in Évry, south of Paris.

The authorities started the day hunting for the companion of one of the killers, only to learn later that she appeared to have fled to Turkey and then probably to Syria days before the first assault in Paris on Wednesday. The police had suspected that the woman — Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, the girlfriend of Amedy Coulibaly, believed to be one of the gunmen — might have played a role in one or more of the attacks.

“We are 99 percent sure that she traveled to Syria from Urfa,” said a Turkish intelligence official, referring to a city in southern Turkey. “There is no evidence that suggests she was involved in the terrorist attacks in France this week.”

France remained on edge a day after security forces killed Mr. Coulibaly, who the police said was responsible for the deaths of four hostages at a kosher supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris on Friday, and Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, the brothers who fatally shot 12 people on Wednesday in and around the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper.

The French government said it would put 500 additional troops on the streets over the weekend amid preparations for a giant unity rally in Paris on Sunday. A number of European officials said they would attend, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey, the most prominent Muslim leader scheduled to be there.

Other foreign officials who have said they would be at the rally include Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people marched in Paris, Toulouse, Nice and other cities in a show of solidarity, and rallies were held in places as far away as Madagascar, Tel Aviv and Bangui, Central African Republic.

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