Apaydin Alain / SIPA / AP Images

Manhunt continues for suspect in Paris attacks

French police continued the search for a suspect as authorities said a third body was found where the mastermind died

France called Friday on its European Union partners to take immediate and decisive action to toughen the bloc's borders and prevent the entry of more violent radicals.

"We can't take more time. This is urgent," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said as French police continued the search on Friday for a suspect on the run as the Paris prosecutor's office announced that a third body was found overnight in an apartment raided by police searching for suspects in last week's Paris attacks.

The office said in a statement Friday that the body is that of a woman but her identity is unclear.

One week after the coordinated attacks claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that killed 129 people in Paris, Cazeneuve and the other EU interior and justice ministers opened an emergency meeting on the next steps to take to prevent more bloodshed. France and Belgium were expected to urge their EU partners to tighten gun laws, toughen border security and choke off funds for radical groups.

"Terrorists are crossing the borders of the European Union," said Cazeneuve, underlining why the 28-nation bloc must move forward on a long-delayed system for collecting and exchanging airline passenger information. That system would allow the EU to better track individuals and foreign fighters coming and going from Syria and Iraq, he said.

Britain's interior minister, Theresa May, said the EU must quickly implement beefed-up border security measures already agreed on, saying there was a clear link between tightened borders and the safety of Europeans.

French investigators quickly identified Belgian-born Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, as the architect of the attacks in Paris, but believed he had coordinated the assaults against a soccer stadium, cafes and a rock concert from the battlefields of Syria.

Not only was Abaaoud in Europe, but he was right under the noses of French investigators, a 15-minute walk from the Stade de France stadium where three suicide bombers blew themselves up during the Nov. 13 attacks that also wounded hundreds.

Prosecutors earlier identified one of the others killed in Wednesday's chaotic raid in Saint-Denis as Abaaoud. Another woman blew herself up. Eight people were arrested in two separate raids in the area on Wednesday.

French police are still looking for Salah Abdeslam, 26.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France does not know if Abdeslam is in France or Belgium, or if more groups involved with the gunmen are still at large.

"The threat is there. We don't know at this point in the investigation if there are groups, individuals, who are directly linked to the attack on Friday evening," Valls told France 2 television. "We don't know yet one can imagine. That's why the threat is still there."

On Thursday the lower house of the French Parliament voted to extend state-of-emergency powers until February and Belgian officials continued their search for another suspect, who remains on the run.

"Abdel Hamid Abaaoud has just been formally identified, after comparing fingerprints, as having been killed during the (police) raid," a statement from the Paris prosecutor said. "It was the body we had discovered in the building, riddled with bullets." But the prosecutor's office left open the possibility that Abaaoud may also have detonated an explosive device on his person.

Cazeneuve says France did not know before last week's deadly attacks that Abaaoud was in Europe. Cazeneuve said Abaaoud was believed to be behind four of six attacks thwarted in France since spring 2015, including an attempted attack on a high-speed train headed to Paris in August that was foiled by other train passengers.

News of Abaaoud's death came as Belgian authorities detained seven people during several raids Thursday morning in Molenbeek, a Brussels district. The raids were linked to one of the suicide bombers in last week's attacks, Bilal Hadfi, and "his entourage," a Belgian official said.

On Friday Jambon will meet in Brussels with European interior and justice ministers. It's expected that French officials will call for strengthened counter-terrorism measures and tightened border checks. Officials also will mull measures to enforce stricter controls of firearm sales and enhanced intelligence-sharing.

With France still reeling from the Friday attacks, Valls warned on that ISIL might attempt to use chemical or biological weapons.

"Terrorism hit France not because of what it is doing in Iraq and Syria ... but for what it is," Valls told the lower house of Parliament Thursday. "We know that there could also be a risk of chemical or biological weapons."

Valls' announcement came as the National Assembly, in a 551 to 6 vote, agreed to extend state-of-emergency powers until February. The vote allows the interior ministry to order house arrests and house searches without judicial approval. Since Friday’s attacks, the ministry has ordered house arrest for over 100 people, and it has conducted nearly 200 house searches.

State-of-emergency powers also allow police to prohibit the free movement of people and vehicles at any time, to block access to certain websites, and to set up checkpoints outside public and private buildings suspected of harboring people deemed dangerous to national security.

Al Jazeera and wire services

Related News

France, Paris

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter


France, Paris

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter