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French Police Couple Killer Was Loyal To IS

The man who killed a French police couple at their home near Paris was responding to calls by so-called Islamic State (IS) “to kill infidels”, police say.

Larossi Abballa, who was killed in a shootout with police, was loyal to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, they said. A police commander and his partner were stabbed to death at their home. Their three-year-old child survived.

The killings were “a terrorist act”, President Francois Hollande said. France still faced “a significant threat”, he said. The attacker was killed in an police assault on the house in Magnanville, about 55km (35 miles) north-west of the French capital.

He had spent time in jail over jihadist links and had a list of targets including public figures, police say. He had also been under recent police surveillance, including a wiretap, media reports say, quoting police sources.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molin said Abballa had pledged his loyalty to the IS leader during negotiations prior to the police assault on Monday. Three people linked to the man have been arrested and placed in custody, police say.

Police say the man lay in wait outside the policeman’s house on Monday evening before the ambush took place at around 20:30 (18:30 GMT). After the murder he went inside the house and killed the policeman’s wife, and held their three-year-old son hostage.

Abballa, 25, was shot and killed when police entered the couple’s home in Magnanville at about midnight, hours after he posted a 13-minute video on Facebook Live in which he swore allegiance to IS. In the video, he was shown considering what to do with their son, according to French jihad expert David Thomson, who watched it. “I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with him,” the killer is heard saying. In the video, he also made a threatening reference to the Euro 2016 football tournament.

Two Facebook accounts linked to Abballa were suspended on Tuesday morning. Police also discovered a list of six people who the suspect wished to target on his computer, reported iTELE – including two public personalities.

Mr Molins said the list included “rappers, journalists, police and public figures”.

Abballa lived in nearby Mantes-La-Jolie and was convicted in 2013 of “criminal association with the aim of preparing terrorist acts”. He was sentenced to a three-year term in prison, of which six months were suspended, for recruiting fighters for jihad in Pakistan.

The IS-linked Amaq news agency claimed an IS “fighter” had carried out the attack.

France has been under a state of emergency since the Paris attacks of 13 November 2015 in which 130 people died. That state of emergency is still in place with France on high alert as it hosts the Euro championship, which started last Friday.

Le Parisien reports that the 42-year-old policeman, named as Jean-Baptiste S, was deputy chief of judicial police at Les Mureaux police station, near their home. It says (in French) he was previously stationed at the police station of Mantes-la-Jolie, where Abballa lived. President Hollande said he and his 36-year-old partner, Jessica S, were “murdered in cowardly fashion”. “It’s unquestionably a terrorist act,” Mr Hollande said, stressing that France was still “facing a very significant terrorist threat”.

Earlier, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said more than 100 people seen as potential threats had been arrested in France this year, including in recent weeks.