PARIS (Reuters) – France questioned on Thursday whether its intelligence service had blundered by allowing a young Muslim with a violent criminal record, spotted twice in Afghanistan, to become the first al Qaeda-inspired killer to strike on its soil.
Hardened by battling Islamic militants from its former North African colony of Algeria, France’s security services have long been regarded as among the most effective in Europe, having prevented terror attacks on French soil for the last 15 years.
TOULOUSE, France, March 21 (Reuters) – French police
launched an assault late on Wednesday on an apartment where a
gunman suspected of killing seven people in the name of al Qaeda
was holed up, officials said.
Three loud blasts were heard at the site in the southwest
city of Toulouse just before midnight, which blew open the door
of the apartment where the gunman had been holed up since 3 a.m.
(0200 GMT), a police source said.
TOULOUSE, France (Reuters) – French police played a waiting game on Wednesday night with a besieged gunman suspected of shooting dead seven people in the name al Qaeda, seeking to capture alive a militant who had boasted of bringing France to its knees.
The 24-year-old Muslim shooter, identified as Mohamed Merah, has been bottled up by France’s elite RAID commandos since 3 a.m. (10.00 p.m. EDT) inside a five-storey building in a suburb of the southwest city of Toulouse – a drama that has gripped France a few weeks ahead of a close-fought presidential election.
PARIS, March 17 (Reuters) – France’s Socialist
presidential frontrunner said on Saturday he would overhaul an
EU budgetary treaty to include a financial transactions tax and
common European bonds to finance investment in the energy
sector, education and urban development.
Francois Hollande, who has made renegotiation of the fiscal
pact signed this month by 25 European leaders a central part of
his campaign, also said he wanted to change the role of the
European Central Bank to give it a broader mandate for
stimulating growth, not just controlling inflation.
PARIS (Reuters) – France’s main presidential candidates have drawn clear battle lines over austerity, Europe and Germany as opinion polls show the gap between them narrowing five weeks before the first round of voting.
Socialist challenger Francois Hollande, whose wide poll lead over conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy has shrunk in the last week, raised the stakes in a television appearance on Thursday after winning public support from German and Spanish opposition leaders for his stance.
PARIS (Reuters) – A Socialist government in France would concentrate on slashing red tape holding back businesses and tackling the budget deficit, an adviser to the party’s presidential candidate Francois Hollande said on Wednesday.
Hollande has unsettled some investors in campaigning for elections in April and May by calling the world of finance his “enemy”, and promising to renegotiate a European budget treaty and slap a 75 percent tax on high earners.
PARIS, March 13 (Reuters) – The euro zone economy
seems to be stabilising and inflation risks have been held at
bay, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on
Tuesday, urging governments and banks to use the respite to
press ahead with reform.
Draghi, who took over the reins of the ECB in November, said
the ECB’s 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) in long-term loans to
euro zone banks, combined with fiscal reforms by euro zone
governments, had drawn a line under the market turmoil of last
WARSAW (Reuters) – France’s Socialist presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande travels to Poland on Friday hoping to win expatriate votes and build his international profile after a week marred by a report that leaders of Europe’s main powers were isolating him.
The one-day visit follows trips in recent months by Hollande – who holds a comfortable poll lead ahead of France’s two-round election in April and May – to Madrid, Berlin, Rome and London.
PARIS, March 6 (Reuters) – European Union Economic and
Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said on Tuesday there
were signs the euro zone would recover from a mild recession in
the coming months and he voiced confidence a debt restructuring
deal for Greece would be successful.
Rehn also urged Spain’s new government to quickly present
its budgetary plan for this year to the Commission and to press
ahead with structural reforms to regional finances.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has marked a rightward shift in his re-election campaig, pledging to cut the number of immigrants and calling for clear labelling of halal meat in a bid to entice voters away from the National Front. Speaking to thousands of flag-waving supporters at a rally in the western city of Bordeaux, Sarkozy vowed to defend secular values in France – which has Europe’s largest Muslim minority – and to send a tough message on law and order if he wins a fresh five-year term in a two-round election in April and May.