Hollande meets Paris attack victims after suspect captured

Paris, Mar 21: French President Francois Hollande held his first formal meeting with victims of the November 13 attacks in Paris today, three days after Belgian police captured key suspect Salah Abdeslam.

"We felt we were heard, even if there was no concrete progress," said Emmanuel Domenach, who escaped a massacre at the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people were killed in one of several attacks claimed by the Islamic State group.

Francois Hollande

Georges Salines, the head of one victims' group, 13 Novembre: Fraternite et Verite (November 13: Fraternity and Truth), ran through a list of "serious problems" experienced by victims and their families, ranging from the process of identifying the bodies to emotional and financial support.

Before the meeting he said he would quiz Hollande on his strategy to prevent future attacks. "What are France's international goals, what is being done to eliminate IS?" asked Salines, whose daughter Lola was among those killed at the Bataclan concert hall.

He said Hollande had promised to meet victims' associations again before the summer, which begins in June, to take stock of the victims' situation.

Hollande's office on Saturday announced the long-delayed meeting with five victims' associations formed after the attacks that claimed 130 lives and injured hundreds.

It said the president and Prime Minister Manuel Valls have been in regular contact with victims and their families -- and Hollande has met with them previously at ceremonies -- but this is the first formal sit-down. The Elysee said there were plans to create a permanent office to help and liaise with victims.

The meeting came on the same day as La Belle Equipe became the last of the restaurants struck in the attack to re-open, surprising residents. Twenty people were killed at the spot in eastern Paris. 


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