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'Rocket launcher found' in French police raids

Sky News Sky News 16/11/2015
Police have seized a rocket launcher as they carried out a series of raids across France © ASSOCIATED PRESS Police have seized a rocket launcher as they carried out a series of raids across France

Police have seized a rocket launcher as they carried out a series of raids across France, according to French media.

French PM Manuel Valls told radion station RTL that 150 searches have taken place across the country in the wake of terror attacks in Paris on Friday.

One of them took place in Lyon, according to TV station Bfmtv, where the weapon was found and five people were held.

Among other areas where police are known to have taken action are Toulouse, Grenoble, Jeumont and the Parisian communes of Bobigny and Saint-Denis.

The raids were carried out under a series of powers that have been put in place by French President Francois Hollande since the massacre.

Mr Valls said: "We are making use of the legal framework of the state of emergency to question people who are part of the radical jihadist movement...and all those who advocate hate of the republic."

His comments come after "massive" airstrikes were carried out on the Syrian city of Raqqa, where the Islamic State group has its headquarters.

Meanwhile, the manhunt goes on for Saleh Abdeslam who is wanted on suspicion of hiring a black VW Polo used in Friday's attack which left 132 dead.

Questions have been raised about how he managed to evade capture after it emerged he was stopped by French police after the attacks but allowed to continue on his way.

Sky's Mark Stone said: "Bobigny is in the northeast Paris and is a 20 minute drive from the centre. We don't know how many people were arrested as a result of these raids.

"In Toulouse in southern France at least three people have been arrested.

"In Grenoble, there have been more arrests and on the French border with Belgium too and yet more people arrested.

"Of course it was on the French Belgium border on Saturday that the one key person that they are trying to find, Saleh Abdeslam - he was detained for a short period and he was released so police across Europe will be urgently trying to track down this man.

"He is thought to be one of the key people in the planning of this attack."

Bfmtv reported that the Grenoble raids took place in the Teisserie and Mistral districts and led to six arrests with weapons being seized.

In Jeumont, 50 officers arrived in 20 vehicles and searched a house in the Laennec Street area, according to L'observateur de la Sambre newspaper.

The raids in Toulouse occurred in the area that was home to Mohamed Merah, who carried out a series of three gun attacks targeting French soldiers and Jewish civilians in 2012, said Bfmtv.

Stone said he has heard from Sky sources that France could evoke Article 5 of the NATO Treaty that an attack on one member of the defence pact is an attack on them all.

If so, it would compel all other members to support France in whatever action it decides to take.

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