Paris, Nov 17 (IANS) Following last week’s Paris attacks by Islamist militants that claimed at least 129 lives, the French authorities have mobilised 115,000 personnel to ratchet up security across the country, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Tuesday.
“We have mobilised 115,000 police, gendarmes and military over the whole of our national territory to ensure the protection of French people,” BBC quoted Cazeneuve as saying.
He vowed to boost funding for police equipment, which he said had fallen by 17 percent during 2007-12.
The interior minister added that 128 raids on suspected Islamist militants had been carried out overnight on Monday-Tuesday. More than 160 raids were made earlier on Monday, with 23 people arrested and dozens of weapons seized.
French media reported that during the raids police found a safe house used by the attackers in Bobigny, a suburb of Paris.
Earlier on Tuesday, French warplanes carried out fresh strikes against the Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria, the army general staff said, destroying a command centre and training centre.
A huge manhunt is under way for 26-year-old Belgian-born French national Salah Abdeslam, one of the key suspects of the attack.
He is believed to have fled across the border to his native Belgium where Belgian police have released more pictures of the wanted man.
The Belgian government has raised its terror threat level because of the failure so far to arrest Abdeslam. Tuesday’s football match between the national team and Spain has been cancelled as a result.
Investigators are also reported to be focusing on a Belgian of Moroccan descent who is described as the possible mastermind of the attacks.
Abdelhamid Abaoud, 27, lived in the Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels, as did two of the attackers, and is now believed to be based in Syria, where he has risen through the IS ranks.
Three teams of terrorists on November 13 staged coordinated attacks at six locations across Paris, including a concert hall, the Stade de France and at least two restaurants. At least 129 people were killed and 352 others wounded in the attacks.
Two of the total seven dead attackers were identified as Ismael Omar Mostefai, 29, and Bilal Hafdi, aged 20.