Paris (AFP): The UN Security Council urged its members to ramp up their fight against Islamic State jihadists after the Paris attacks, as Europe said it would tighten border checks and Brussels issued its highest terror alert.
Hours after the UN Security Council passed the resolution authorising countries to “take all necessary measures” against IS, gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital, taking more than 100 people hostage in a siege that left at least 27 dead.
The attack on Bamako’s luxury Radisson Blu hotel added to fears about the global jihadist threat a week after attacks in Paris left 130 people dead, although there was no immediate confirmation of a link with IS.
In the European Union, ministers agreed to rush through reforms to the passport-free Schengen zone to tighten the bloc’s borders, and Belgium put out its highest terror alert in its capital, warning of a “serious and imminent threat”.
Officials declined to add further details until later on today “in order to allow ongoing judicial investigations to follow their course”, the OCAM national crisis centre said in a statement.
The 28-year-old suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan origin, is believed to have travelled to Syria to join IS and be trained as an operative in Europe.
News that he and another attacker were able to slip back into Europe from Syria, despite being the subject of international arrest warrants, has raised fears jihadists are taking advantage of the migrant crisis to carry out attacks.
One of the suspected gunmen in the Paris attacks linked to Abaaoud, 26-year-old Brussels resident Salah Abdeslam, is still the subject of a huge international manhunt.
In Syria, meanwhile, a monitoring group said at least 36 people were killed in air strikes by Russian and Syrian jets in the IS-controlled eastern Deir Ezzor province, describing them as the heaviest in the region since the start of the civil war.
At the United Nations, Russia joined Western powers in backing the French-drafted text that authorises countries to “take all necessary measures” to fight IS and other extremist groups linked to Al-Qaeda.
Describing IS as a “global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security”, the resolution called for sanctions and urges countries to step up efforts to cut off the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria.
French President Francois Hollande welcomed the move, even though the text does not provide any legal basis for military action, saying it will “contribute to mobilising nations to eliminate Daesh” (IS).