Paris, Jan 10: France today deployed thousands of security forces to thwart new attacks and hunt down a suspected accomplice in a rampage by terrorists linked to al-Qaeda in Yemen that scarred the nation after the killing of 17 people in terror strikes.
Three attackers were among those killed after three days of bloodshed at the offices of a satirical newspaper, a kosher supermarket and other sites around Paris. But the sense of relief today was tinged with worry and sorrow, as the nation mourned slain hostages and cartoonists.
Security forces were deployed around the capital, guarding places of worship and tourist sites, and preparing for what is likely to be a huge demonstration tomorrow to show unity against extremists.
Two dozen world leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel and Britain's David Cameron are among the many expected to join. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said authorities will do everything to ensure security at the event.
Speaking after an emergency meeting called by French President Francois Hollande this morning, Cazeneuve called for "extreme vigilance," saying that "given the context, we are exposed to risks." Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen said it directed Wednesday's attack against the publication Charlie Hebdo.
In a sign of the tense atmosphere, a security perimeter was briefly imposed at Disneyland Paris today before being lifted, a spokeswoman said, without elaborating. Movement around the park was back to normal by early afternoon. Cazeneuve said the government is maintaining its terror alert system at the highest level in the Paris region, and said investigators are focusing on determining whether the attackers were part of a larger extremist network.
Five other people are in custody as part of the investigation, and family members of the attackers are among several given preliminary charges so far. French radio RTL released audio today of the attacker who seized hostages in the kosher supermarket, Amedy Coulibaly, in which he lashes out over Western military campaigns against extremists in Syria and Mali.
He describes Osama bin Laden as an inspiration. One of his hostages said on France 2 television today that the gunman told them: "Me, I'm not scared of dying. Either I die, or I get a 40-year prison sentence."
The woman was identified only as Marie, and did not show her face. The focus of the police hunt is on Coulibaly's widow, Hayat Boumeddiene. Police named her as an accomplice and think she is armed.
"You must consider her as the companion of a dangerous terrorist who needs to be questioned," Christophe Crepin, spokesman for UNSA police union, told The Associated Press.