France confirms death of jihadist with Paris attacks links

Paris (AFP) –


France on Wednesday confirmed the death of French jihadist Charaffe el Mouadan, who had close links to at least one of the Paris attackers, as it emerged the gunmen coordinated the November 13 assault in real time.

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters "Yes, I can confirm" Mouadan's death but declined to give further details.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced Mouadan had been killed in a strike by the US-led coalition on December 24.

French sources said there was no immediate evidence directly linking Mouadan to the Paris attacks but said he had been close to Samy Amimour, one of the suicide bombers who attacked the Bataclan music venue in the French capital.

Baghdad-based US military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said Tuesday that Mouadan, 26, also had a "direct link" to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Paris attacks cell leader.

According to information obtained by AFP from the investigation into the attacks, the gunmen coordinated the assault between them via phone and also communicated with one or more unidentified accomplices in Belgium.

One of the gunmen at the Bataclan sent a text message at 2042 GMT to a phone in Belgium that read: "We're off. We're starting."

The phone used to send this message was found in a bin near the concert venue.

Meanwhile, Belgian police detained one person for questioning over the Paris attacks.

The person, who was not identified, was picked up during a search in the troubled Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek.

The attacks on the French national stadium, Paris bars and cafes and the Bataclan on November 13 resulted in 130 deaths and hundreds of wounded.

The assault, claimed by the Islamic State group, and a heightened terror alert in Brussels have caused jitters across Europe ahead of traditional New Year's Eve celebrations.

Paris has abandoned its firework display although the traditional gathering on the Champs Elysees will go ahead, under very tight security.

Late Wednesday, the mayor of Brussels announced that New Year's festivities and fireworks had been cancelled over the terror threat.