France mourns police couple killed by alleged extremist

Police agencies across France held a minute of silence on Wednesday to honour a police couple allegedly killed by a man who posted a video claiming the stabbings and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.

President Francois Hollande took part in the ceremony at the Beavau plaza in front of the Interior Ministry in central Paris, one of several commemorations held across the country for 42-year-old Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and 36-year-old Jessica Schneider, who were murdered late Monday.

"Once again, two employees of the Interior Ministry have fallen, victims of abject violence at the hands of a criminal acting in the name of the terrorist organization Daesh," said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve before holding a minute of silence.

Daesh is another name for the Islamic State extremist group, whose media arm published a video suspected attacker Larossi Abballa posted on social media from inside his victims' home. In the video, he confessed to both killings, pledged allegiance Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and exhorted others to violence.

The couple's 3-year-old son survived the attack, and was taken to the hospital in shock, a French prosecutor said.

Special police forces killed Abballa following a stand-off at the couple's home that lasted more than three hours beginning late Monday.

"I want to assure you of the constant support that you fill find from the president, the prime minister and the government, throughout this struggle we are in and for which you are engaged, day after day, even at the risk of your life," Cazeneuve said, addressing the police forces.

Cazenenuve, Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls led a moment of silence before singing the Marseillaise. Moments later, in a separate ceremony held in the hometown of the couple who were killed, neighbours and locals also held a moment of silence before singing the national anthem.

The two were stabbed to death at their home in Magnanville, some 50 kilometres west of Paris. Hollande had slammed the attack incontestably terrorist in nature, and said Wednesday morning that it would be a "long war against terrorism."

Hollande spoke with US President Barack Obama, the Elysee said, and the two agreed to cooperate more closely on security after a lone gunman who killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, pledged allegiance to Islamic State in an emergency call while the attack was under way.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere attended a cabinet meeting in Paris on Wednesday, where he expressed Germany's support for working on an integrated information system for security issues and travel with an eye toward fighting terrorism.

"No single nation can successfully assure its security against terrorism, its security against cyber attacks or controlled migration by itself," de Maiziere said.

Last update: Wed, 15/06/2016 - 16:33
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