Today's Paper

Mastermind of Paris attacks identified as Belgian national

In an extraordinary address to both Houses of Parliament on Monday, President Francois Hollande pledged that France would step up strikes against Syria, the country where the headquarters of the Daesh (the Islamic State) is located, and the recent terror attacks in Paris were planned.

Mr. Hollande said Parliament would consider extending the state of emergency for another three months at a session on Wednesday, and made a strong case for amending the Constitution to give more powers to the government for tackling terrorism. This would include the powers to expel foreigners posing a serious risk to public order, he said.

The French President also promised to beef up the country’s police and armed forces. He intends to draft 5,000 more policemen, create 2,500 extra posts in the country’s prison and judicial services and 1,000 more positions in the customs and border agency and increase the technological capabilities of the defence sector.

French prosecutors conducted 168 overnight raids in France, Mr. Hollande said, and put 104 persons under house arrest.

He vowed that the air strikes against Syria would not stop.

“We’re at war”

“France is at war and we will intensify attacks. Syria is the biggest factory of terrorism and the international community is not coherent in its response,” Mr. Hollande said, adding that he would speak to U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin to urge them to “unite our forces.”

Meanwhile, there has been a major breakthrough in the investigations into the terror strikes that killed 129 people at three different venues in Paris on Friday night with the identification of the alleged mastermind of the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian national currently in Syria.

Suicide bombers named

The prosecutors have so far named four of the seven suicide bombers, and are on the lookout for 26-year old Salah Abdeslam, who is said to be one of the three brothers linked to the attacks.

The attackers have been identified as Syrian-born Ahmed Almohammad, French-born Samy Amimour, Omar Ismail Mostefai, a French national who was identified by a severed finger found after the carnage at the Bataclan concert hall and Brahim Abdeslam (brother of Salah Abdeslam) who killed himself outside a restaurant in Paris.

Nation pays homage

France came to a silent standstill for a moment at noon on Monday to honour and remember its citizens who died in the attacks. Mr. Hollande led the homage from the campus of Sorbonne University in recognition of the overwhelmingly young victims of the assault.

In the historic Hotel de Ville or City Hall, Mayor of Paris Ann Hidalgo and her administration’s workforce gath ered in the Salle des Fetes, one of the building’s ceremonial halls, to mark the moment. Many sobbed quietly, comforted by their colleagues.

Offices and schools reopened on Monday, bringing a semblance of normality back to the city. Vigils for those who died continued at the sites of the bombings and at the Place de la Republique.