Jamey Keaten, AP, January 12, 2015
As many as six members of a terrorist cell involved in the Paris attacks may still be at large, including a man who was seen driving a car registered to the widow of one of the gunmen, police officials said Monday.
Two French police officials also told The Associated Press that authorities were searching the Paris area for the Mini Cooper registered to Hayat Boumeddiene, the widow of Amedy Coulibaly. Turkish officials say she is now in Syria.
The disclosures came as France deployed 10,000 troops to protect sensitive sites–including Jewish schools and neighborhoods–in the wake of the attacks last week that killed 17 people last week. Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, as well as Coulibaly, their friend who claimed ties to Islamic extremists in the Middle East, died Friday in clashes with police.
One of the police officials said the cell consisted of about 10 members, and that “five or six could still be at large.” He did not provide their names.
One of the officials also said Coulibaly apparently set off a car bomb Thursday in the town of Villejuif, but that it did not receive significant media attention at the time because no one was injured.
Paris’ Marais district–one of the country’s oldest Jewish neighborhoods–was filled with police and soldiers by midday Monday. About 4,700 of the security forces would be assigned to protect France’s 717 Jewish schools, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
Video emerged Sunday of Coulibaly explaining how the attacks in Paris would unfold. French police want to find the person or persons who shot and posted the video, which was edited after Friday’s attacks.
Boumeddiene was seen traveling through Turkey with a male companion before reportedly arriving in Syria with him on Jan. 8–the day after the Charlie Hebdo attack and the same day Coulibaly began his murderous spree by killing the policewoman.
Her last phone signal was Jan. 8 from the border town of Akcakale, where she apparently crossed into Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria, the official said. Their Jan. 9 return plane tickets to Madrid went unused.
Witnesses said the Kouachis claimed they were being supported by al-Qaida in Yemen, the group the U.S. considers the most dangerous offshoot of that network. In his video and in comments to French media before he died, Coulibaly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, which has taken over large sections of Iraq and Syria but is a bitter rival of al-Qaida.