U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed solidarity with the French people, hours after security forces in France, Belgium, and Germany carried out dozens of raids against suspected members of Islamist militant cells.
Kerry said on January 16 at the Hotel de Ville, the city hall of Paris, that all Americans felt "horror and revulsion" at the "cowardly and despicable" terrorist attacks in Paris last week that killed 17 victims.
Meanwhile, French authorities detained 12 suspects in connection with the attacks in a series of raids in and around Paris that targeted people linked to one of last week’s attackers – Amedy Coulibaly.
Some of the individuals detained in France were suspected of providing logistical support for last week’s attacks against the office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, a kosher market in Paris, and a French policewoman.
In Belgium, two gunmen were shot dead on January 15 and 15 people were detained when authorities conducted 12 antiterrorism raids in Brussels and other cities.
That operation focused on individuals who recently returned from Syria, where they were thought to have joined Islamic militants.
The two slain suspects were killed in the eastern city of Verviers after they opened fire on investigators, who said the gunmen were hours away from launching a series of attacks against police on the streets and in their offices.
Authorities in Verviers recovered assault rifles, ammunition, explosives, police uniforms, forged documents, and what they described as a “large sum of money.”
In Berlin, police on January 16 arrested two men suspected of recruiting fighters and financing Islamic State militants in Syria.
Berlin Terror Cell
Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors, described one suspect as "a self-declared imam who is suspected of having radicalized people as part of his Islam course."
He said the other suspect was his "financial chief."
Three other men who were detained and and questioned on suspicion of helping with logistical support for the alleged Berlin terrorist cell were released later on January 16, with authorities saying they did not have enough evidence to hold them.
More than 250 police were involved in the operation, which included dawn raids on 12 Berlin residences that have been the focus of a months-old investigation into a group of Turkish extremists.
Steltner said those arrested in Berlinwere not directly linked to the attacks in France last week.
The raids in France, Belgium, and Germany follow talks in Paris by European and U.S. officials to coordinate efforts against radicalized Muslims linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
Kerry's January 16 visit to France came after the Obama administration apologized for not sending a higher-level delegation to the January 11 unity march in Paris that was attended by world leaders and more than 1 million people.
Hollande thanked Kerry for offering support, saying: "You've been victims yourself of an exceptional terrorist attack on September 11. You know what it means for a country. Together, we must find appropriate responses.”
With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa