French attack suspect begins to talk as 'selfie' emerges

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Paris, Jun 28: French authorities were transferring the man suspected of beheading his boss in an alleged jihadist attack to Paris today, as it emerged he sent a macabre "selfie" of the decapitation.

Anti-terror police will grill the suspect, Yassin Salhi, a 35-year-old father-of-three, as they search for clues and a motive for Friday's attack on a gas warehouse near France's second city of Lyon.

Terrorist

After several hours of silence, Salhi has begun to open up to investigators about the assault, which came six months after 17 were killed in Islamist attacks in Paris that began with the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

And Canadian authorities are trying to help France solve the case after it emerged Salhi sent a gruesome selfie photo of himself and the severed head to a WhatsApp number in Canada.

Investigators have warned however that it could be a relay number and the intended recipient could be anywhere in the world.

The probe is naturally focusing on Syria, where hundreds of French people have gone to wage jihad, officials said. Anti-terrorist authorities have identified 473 people who have left France to fight in Iraq or Syria, according to sources close to the probe.

On Friday morning, Salhi rammed his van into the US-owned Air Products factory in what President Francois Hollande said was a "terrorist" attack designed to blow up the whole building.

He was overpowered by a firefighter as he was trying to prise open a bottle of acetone in an apparent suicidal bid to destroy the factory.

Police then made the grisly discovery of the severed head of Salhi's boss, 54-year-old Herve Cornara, lashed to the gates of the factory near two flags with the Muslim profession of faith written on them.

The attack came on a day of bloodshed on three continents that saw 38 people mown down on a Tunisian beach and 26 killed in a suicide attack in Kuwait.

The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for those two attacks but no group has said it carried out the French operation.

Sources close to the investigation said Salhi was radicalised more than a decade ago after contact with Muslim convert Frederic Jean Salvi - known as "Ali" - who is suspected of preparing attacks in Indonesia with Al-Qaeda militants.

An autopsy on the victim has proved inconclusive, with experts unable to determine whether he was killed before being beheaded or decapitated alive.

AFP

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