France has paid tribute to the 130 people killed in the November 13 Paris attacks, with President Francois Hollande leading a solemn ceremony in honour of the victims.
Families of those killed in the attacks, claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, joined some of the wounded at ceremonies on Friday at the Invalides, the gilded 17th-century complex in central Paris that houses a military hospital and museum and Napoleon’s tomb.
The tribute was “national and republican,” an official at the Elysee presidential palace said, referring to the French republic’s creed of liberty, equality and fraternity.
“It will take place in sobriety and solemnity, reflected by the beauty of the surroundings,” the official said ahead of the event.
Some victims snub event
Hollande broke away from a whirlwind diplomatic bid to build a broad military coalition to defeat ISIL. The marathon has taken him from Paris to Washington to Moscow in just a few days.
He made a 20-minute address at the one-hour ceremony, which was shown live on television.
In the run-up to the commemoration, Hollande called on the French to hang out the Tricolour: “Every French citizen can take part [in the tribute] by taking the opportunity to deck their home with a blue, white and red flag, the colours of France,” government spokesman Stephane Le Foll quoted Hollande as saying.
Some victims’ families and survivors, however, said they would snub the event.
“At least two families did not attend, as well as one survivor,” Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Paris, said.
“In all three cases, they said the authorities had not learned security lessons after the Charlie Hebdo attacks back in January. Back then, the government had made lots of promises about improving security and intelligence gathering in order to make the public safe.
“But these people say that the government did not deliver on those promises, and cite how the attackers were able to move freely between France and Syria.”
France and its allies continued a manhunt for two key suspects – Salah Abdeslam, who allegedly played a key logistical role in the attacks, and Mohamed Abrini, who French and Belgian authorities claim was seen with Abdeslam two days before the November 13 attacks.
Meanwhile, France has stepped up its air strikes on ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq, where the group controls large areas of territory, and wants to create a more coordinated, concerted international effort to destroy the armed group.