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France

Pentagon confirms air strike on French IS member

media Police outside the Louvre after Abdallah El-Hamahmy's attack Reuters/Christian Hartmann

The Pentagon has confirmed that an airstrike targeted French jihadist Rachid Kassim but has yet to establish whether the Islamic State (IS) armed group member was killed. Meanwhile, four people accused of planning a terror attack in France were still in custody after being arrested on Friday.

"We can confirm that coalition forces targeted Rachid Kassim, a senior Isis operative, near Mosul in a strike in the past 72 hours," said Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian JT Rankine-Galloway. "We are currently assessing the results of that strike and will provide more information when it becomes available."

Kassim, who is in his 30s and originally from Roanne in the Loire Valley, is believed to have inspired last year's attacks on a senior French police officer and his partner, who were stabbed, and on an elderly priest, whose throat was cut.

He is suspected of using the encrypted Telegram app to direct attacks on France from IS-controlled territory in Iraq or Syria.

Four terror suspects still detained

Four people arrested on Friday in an operation that Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux claimed prevented an imminent attack on French soil were still in detention on Saturday, legal sources said.

They were identified after some had used social media, including Telegram.

One of them, a 16-year-old girl, posted a video in which she swore allegiance to IS on social media on 8 February, investigators say.

Louvre attacker charged

The man who attacked soldiers near Paris's Louvre museum, Abdallah El-Hamahmy, has been charged with attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise and other offences.

The 29-year-old Egyptian is still in hospital after being shot during the course of the attack.

Investigators have found that he sent two money orders for 5,000 euros to a compatriot based in Poland, sources say, but he has said that he acted alone and no organisation has claimed responsibility for his act.

Teacher acquitted for false attack claim

A teacher who was charged with reporting a false crime after claiming to have been stabbed with a box cutter at his school near Paris was acquitted on Friday.

Prosecutors had appealed against an earlier acquittal and called for a four-month suspended sentence but the court found that evidence cited against him was insufficient.

The 45-year-old told police that he had inflicted injuries on himself to expose what he considered inadequate security at his school.

But the statement was made while he was in hospital on morphine and without having a lawyer present and later retracted.

The judges ruled the earlier statements inadmissible.

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