Turkey: French suspect’s partner in Syria

Foreign minister confirms Hayat Boumeddiene, wanted over alleged links to Paris attacks, travelled via Istanbul.

Boumeddiene, left, was the partner of Coulibaly, who was killed after taking over a kosher store [AFP]

The partner of one of the slain attackers behind the three-day killing spree in Paris crossed into Syria last week, according to the Turkish foreign minister.

Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that Hayat Boumeddiene, 26, had crossed into Syria on January 8, the same day that her partner Amedy Coulibaly is suspected of killing a policewoman outside Paris on the second day of the attacks which left 17 people dead.

“She entered Turkey on January 2 from Madrid. There are images of her at the airport,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by state-run news agency Anatolia.

“Then she crossed into Syria on January 8. This is clear from the telephone records.”

Turkish television channel Haber Turk later broadcast images of a woman it said was Boumeddiene crossing the Turkish border at passport control at Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul.

Wearing a headscarf, she was accompanied by a bearded, unidentified man in the security footage.

Hotel in Kadikoy

Cavusoglu said Boumeddiene, who had reportedly married Coulibaly in an Islamic ceremony, stayed at a hotel in the Kadikoy district on the Asian side of Istanbul and was accompanied by another person.

Cavusoglu said Turkey passed the information to the French authorities “even before they asked for it” as soon as the government had identified her whereabouts.

“We told them: ‘The person you are looking for was here, stayed here and crossed into Syria illegally’,” he said.

Efkan Ala, Turkey’s interior minister, also said Turkey did not refuse Boumeddiene entry because French authorities had made no such request and that they had not warned the Turkish authorities that she was “dangerous”.

He said Turkey’s intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), and the police were still working to shed more light on the matter.

The statements confirm that Boumeddiene was already outside France when the attacks began, contrary to earlier speculation that she had been involved.

Source: AFP