UN, EU move to toughen anti-IS fight

  • 21/11/2015

The UN Security Council has unanimously backed a resolution aimed at broadening the fight against the Islamic State group as Europe agreed to tighten border checks, a week after the Paris attacks.

The vote in New York on the text drafted by France came hours after gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, taking dozens of people hostage that ended around nine hours later with at least 21 dead.

The attack on the luxury Radisson Blu hotel added to fears about the global jihadist threat a week after the Paris massacre that left 130 people dead, although there was no immediate confirmation of a link with IS.

Malian special forces, backed by French and US operatives, carried out a dramatic floor-by-floor rescue of the hostages, killing three gunmen, according to security sources.

As the siege was unfolding, the EU agreed to rush through reforms to the passport-free Schengen zone to address growing concerns about border security in the wake of last week's attacks on a Paris football stadium, concert hall, bars and restaurants.

At the United Nations, Russia joined Western powers in backing the French-drafted text that authorises countries to "take all necessary measures" to fight IS and other extremist groups linked to Al-Qaida.

French President Francois Hollande welcomed the adoption of the resolution, saying it will "contribute to mobilising nations to eliminate Daesh".

Describing IS as a "global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security", the resolution calls for sanctions and urges countries to step up efforts to cut off the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria.

The 28-year-old ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a Belgian of Moroccan origin, is believed to have travelled to Syria to join IS and be trained as an operative in Europe.

In Brussels, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he and his EU counterparts agreed in crisis talks to "immediately" tighten checks on points of entry to the 26-country Schengen area.

The reforms aim to defuse the furore unleashed by revelations that two of the attackers, including Abaaoud, were able to slip back into Europe from Syria despite being the subject of international arrest warrants.

Abaaoud, a Belgian national, was reported killed in a ferocious police onslaught on Wednesday on an apartment building in the Saint-Denis suburb of Paris, where the attacks began on November 13 with three explosions outside the Stade de France stadium.

Two other people also died in the raid, including a woman reported to be Abaaoud's cousin, 26-year-old Hasna Aitboulahcen.

Investigators revealed on Friday that Abaaoud was caught on camera at a metro station in the east of the capital on the night of the attacks, as the massacre at Bataclan concert hall was under way.

One of the suspected attackers in the bar and restaurant attacks, Salah Abdeslam, 26, is still on the run. His brother, Brahim Abdeslam, blew himself up at a bar, but did not kill anyone else.

AFP

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