Elkin urges French Jews to leave after factory beheading
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Over 200 killed as Islamist terror wave hits Mideast, France

Tunisia death toll rises to 37; Kuwait mosque blast kills 25; Israeli minister tells French Jews to 'Come Home!' after beheading attack; Netanyahu blasts 'dark forces'; IS kills 145 in Syria, supporters celebrate 'Black Friday'

Ricky Ben-David is a senior news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • A Tunisian medic stands next to the body of a tourist at the Imperial hotel in the resort town of Sousse, a popular tourist destination 140 kilometers (90 miles) south of the Tunisian capital, on June 26, 2015. At least 27 people, including foreigners, were killed in a mass shooting at a Tunisian beach resort packed with holidaymakers, in the North African country's worst attack in recent history. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID)
    A Tunisian medic stands next to the body of a tourist at the Imperial hotel in the resort town of Sousse, a popular tourist destination 140 kilometers (90 miles) south of the Tunisian capital, on June 26, 2015. At least 27 people, including foreigners, were killed in a mass shooting at a Tunisian beach resort packed with holidaymakers, in the North African country's worst attack in recent history. (AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID)
  • In this screen grab taken from video provided by Tunisia TV1, injured people are treated on a Tunisian beach Friday June 26, 2015. Two gunmen rushed from the beach into a hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse Friday, killing at least 37 people and wounding six others in the latest attack on the North African country's key tourism industry, the Interior Ministry said. (Tunisia TV1 via AP)
    In this screen grab taken from video provided by Tunisia TV1, injured people are treated on a Tunisian beach Friday June 26, 2015. Two gunmen rushed from the beach into a hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse Friday, killing at least 37 people and wounding six others in the latest attack on the North African country's key tourism industry, the Interior Ministry said. (Tunisia TV1 via AP)
  • Bodies on a Tunisian beach in the immediate aftermath of a June 26, 2015 terrorist attack (YouTube screenshot)
    Bodies on a Tunisian beach in the immediate aftermath of a June 26, 2015 terrorist attack (YouTube screenshot)
  • Investigating police officers work outside the plant where a terrorist attack took place, Friday, June 26, 2015 in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, southeast of Lyon, France. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
    Investigating police officers work outside the plant where a terrorist attack took place, Friday, June 26, 2015 in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, southeast of Lyon, France. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
  • French President Francois Hollande delivers a statement during an EU summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 26, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/ ALAIN JOCARD)
    French President Francois Hollande delivers a statement during an EU summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 26, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/ ALAIN JOCARD)
  • Scene of suspected terror attack in Grenoble, France, June 26, 2015 (Sky News Screenshot)
    Scene of suspected terror attack in Grenoble, France, June 26, 2015 (Sky News Screenshot)
  • Google Earth view of scene of Tunisia terror attack, June 26, 2015 (CNN screenshot)
    Google Earth view of scene of Tunisia terror attack, June 26, 2015 (CNN screenshot)
  • Kuwaiti men react at the site of a suicide bombing that targeted the Shiite Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque during Friday prayers on June 26, 2015, in Kuwait City. (AFP PHOTO / YASSER AL-ZAYYAT)
    Kuwaiti men react at the site of a suicide bombing that targeted the Shiite Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque during Friday prayers on June 26, 2015, in Kuwait City. (AFP PHOTO / YASSER AL-ZAYYAT)
  • Kuwaiti security personnel and medical staff carry a man on a stretcher at the site of a suicide bombing that targeted the Shiite Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque after it was targeted by a suicide bombing during Friday prayers on June 26, 2015, in Kuwait City. (AFP PHOTO / STR)
    Kuwaiti security personnel and medical staff carry a man on a stretcher at the site of a suicide bombing that targeted the Shiite Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque after it was targeted by a suicide bombing during Friday prayers on June 26, 2015, in Kuwait City. (AFP PHOTO / STR)
  • A picture taken from the Turkish side of the border in Suruc, Sanliurfa province, shows Turkish soldiers standing guard (Front) as Syrian Kurds wait behind the barbed wired on the Syrian side after they fled the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on June 26, 2015, a day after a deadly suicide bombing occurred in the town. At least 120 civilians have been killed by the Islamic State group since it entered the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane just over 24 hours ago, a monitoring group said. (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC)
    A picture taken from the Turkish side of the border in Suruc, Sanliurfa province, shows Turkish soldiers standing guard (Front) as Syrian Kurds wait behind the barbed wired on the Syrian side after they fled the Syrian town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on June 26, 2015, a day after a deadly suicide bombing occurred in the town. At least 120 civilians have been killed by the Islamic State group since it entered the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane just over 24 hours ago, a monitoring group said. (AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC)
  • Somali soldiers stand near the wreckage at the scene of a suicide car bomb attack which targeted a convoy of foreign officials, in Mogadishu, Somalia on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (AP Photo)
    Somali soldiers stand near the wreckage at the scene of a suicide car bomb attack which targeted a convoy of foreign officials, in Mogadishu, Somalia on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (AP Photo)
  • An ambulance waits in Suruc in Turkey's in Sanliurfa province to transport wounded people near the Syrian border town of Kobane on June 25, 2015. (AFP)
    An ambulance waits in Suruc in Turkey's in Sanliurfa province to transport wounded people near the Syrian border town of Kobane on June 25, 2015. (AFP)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Friday’s events as they unfolded.

Terror attacks in France, Kuwait, Tunisia

PREAMBLE: A series of terror attacks have hit Europe and the Middle East today. The first was in Paris, the second in Kuwait, and the third in Tunisia.

At least 27 people have been killed in the Tunisia attack, which is still unfolding.

Thirteen or more are dead in the bombing of a Kuwaiti mosque — an attack claimed by Islamic State.

A man was beheaded in a late morning attack near Grenoble, which President Francois Hollande has confirmed was an act of terrorism.

27 killed in Tunisia mostly German, British tourists — local radio

Tunisia’s Interior Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui tells the state news agency that the victims killed in the terror attacks in Sousse were mostly tourists but does not give any nationalities.

Local radio says the dead are mostly German and British.

— AP contributed

French gas factory says all workers accounted for after beheading

Air Products says all its employees are accounted for after an attack on a factory in southwestern France late Friday morning. It has not confirmed whether its staff were among the two people reported injured and one dead. The company says in a statement that all employees have been evacuated from the site, which is secure.

It says “our crisis and emergency response teams have been activated and are working closely with all relevant authorities.”

A car rammed the gate and plowed into gas canisters, touching off an explosion, at the factory near Lyon on Friday morning. A decapitated body and flags with Arabic writing were found at the scene.

Scene of suspected terror attack in Grenoble, France, June 26, 2015 (Sky News Screenshot)

Scene of suspected terror attack in Grenoble, France, June 26, 2015 (Sky News Screenshot)

Air Products, which is based in the US, makes gases used by a wide range of industries, including food production, medicine and the oil and gas. It has more than 20,000 employees in 50 countries, mostly in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

— AP

Kuwait bomber struck during Friday prayers

In Kuwait, the suicide bomber attacked a Shiite mosque during the main weekly prayers, killing and wounding dozens. The attack has been claimed by the Islamic State.

The blast hit Al-Imam al-Sadeq mosque in Kuwait City, security officials and witnesses said. Medics said at least 13 people were killed in the blast.

Mohammed al-Faili, 32, told The Associated Press that his 70-year-old father was among the dead. Two of his brothers were also wounded by the explosion.

Death toll from IS attack on Kuwait mosque rises to 16

The death toll from a suicide blast claimed by the Islamic State at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait rises to 16 and is expected to go up further, according to the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya.

According to an IS statement posted to social media and cited by the channel, the terror group targeted a “temple of the rejectionists,” and identified the bomber as Abu Suleiman al-Muwahed.

This video shows the aftermath of the deadly blast.

IS supporters on social media celebrate ‘bloody Friday’

Supporters of the Islamic State are celebrating the wave of terror attacks today in France, Tunisia and Kuwait as “bloody Friday,” tweeting praise using the #bloodyfriday hashtag.

“This Friday is a holiday for the Muslims,” one IS supporter gloats online, according to a Mideast analyst writing on Vocativ.

“Many others used a hashtag praising the ‘lone wolves’ around the world and celebrating the day as ‘Bloody Friday,'” writes Gilad Shiloach.

France: Decapitated man was a local businessman

A French security official says the man whose severed head was found hanging at the gate of an American gas factory that was attacked in France has been identified as a local businessman.

A car rammed the factory gate Friday in southeastern France and plowed into gas canisters, touching off an explosion. A decapitated body and flags with Arabic writing were found at the entrance.

The security official, who was not authorized to speak to the media and requested anonymity, says the victim was the head of a local transportation company and was believed to have been killed before the explosion. His name was not released.

Authorities had said his body was found near the site of the attack.

— AP

Second gunman in Tunisia attacks captured

The second suspected gunman in the terror attacks in the beach resort of Sousse, Tunisia has been captured by police, according to the Tunisian press.

At least 27 people were killed, among them European tourists.

Islamic extremists bomb base in Somalia, at least 9 dead

Islamic militants from the Al-Qaida-linked Al-Shabab group have attacked a remote African Union base in Somalia, AP reports, causing many casualties.

In a tweet, the African Union mission confirmed there had been an early morning attack on their outpost in Lego, but did not provide any further details.

Mohammed Haji, an official in the Lower Shabelle region told The Associated Press by telephone that militants attacked the base entrance with a suicide car bomb before gunmen began their assault.

“They managed to infiltrate the entrance after the blast — it was a complex attack,” said. He estimated that up to 25 combatants may have been killed, but there was no way to verify his claim. Other reports spoke of nine dead.

Al-Shabab group, which vowed it would step up attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, claimed responsibility for the attack.

On Wednesday, nine people were killed after a suicide bomber tried to ram his explosives-laden car into a convoy of vehicles transporting Emirati diplomats in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

Somali soldiers stand near the wreckage at the scene of a suicide car bomb attack which targeted a convoy of foreign officials, in Mogadishu, Somalia Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (AP Photo)

Somali soldiers stand near the wreckage at the scene of a suicide car bomb attack which targeted a convoy of foreign officials, in Mogadishu, Somalia Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (AP Photo)

The militants, who have ties with al-Qaida, have been pushed out of much of the territory they once controlled across the Horn of Africa nation, including Mogadishu. But they remain a lethal threat, carrying out guerrilla attacks on government and civilian targets.

France detains 2 more suspects in gas attack

Live television from France has shown two people — a woman and another person whose head was covered — being led away by French security forces from the detained suspect’s apartment building in Saint Priest, a suburb of Lyon.

France’s top security official says the suspect himself was detained earlier Friday after he rammed a car into gas canisters at an American gas factory in southeastern France, touching off an explosion that injured two people.

A security official says the suspect’s wife was among those taken into custody Friday afternoon.

Another security official said the suspect apparently miscalculated about how explosive the chemicals he smashed into would be. French President Francois Hollande says a major explosion appeared to be the goal. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

— AP

France: Beheaded man was employer of detained suspect

The local businessman found beheaded in France earlier today is said to have been the employer of a second suspect detained by police, Sky News reports.

That suspect’s wife was also taken into custody.

He is believed to have rammed a car into gas canisters at the US-owned gas factory in southeastern France where the beheaded man was also found.

US Supreme Court rules gay marriage a right nationwide

The Supreme Court declares that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

President Barack Obama lauds decision.

Carlos McKnight of Washington, waves a flag in support of gay marriage outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Carlos McKnight of Washington, waves a flag in support of gay marriage outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

IS kills 145 civilians in massacre at Kobane

Islamic State terrorists have killed at least 145 civilians in an attack on the Syrian town of Kobane and a nearby village, Reuters reports. It says a monitoring group described the killings on Thursday and Friday as the second worst massacre carried out by IS in Syria to date.

Fighting between IS and the Kurdish YPG militia at the town on the Turkish border is still going on, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group and a Kurdish official said.

An ambulance waits in Suruc in Turkey's in Sanliurfa province to transport wounded people near the Syrian border town of Kobane on June 25, 2015. (AFP)

An ambulance waits in Suruc in Turkey’s in Sanliurfa province to transport wounded people near the Syrian border town of Kobane on June 25, 2015. (AFP)

Death toll in Tunisia rises to 28 with at least 39 injured

The Tunisian Health Ministry says the death toll from the attack on two hotels in Sousse earlier today is up to 28, with at least 39 injured.

Among the dead are French, Belgian, Russian, German and British tourists.

There may only have been one gunman, who is dead, Sky News now says. He entered the hotel purporting to be going to the beach, but had a machine-gun hidden in a parasol. He opened fire at tourists relaxing on the beach, Sky says.

Sky news says the death toll in Kuwait is up to 25.

Cameron: ‘This is not Islam; it’s a perverted ideology and we must fight it’

British Prime Minister David Cameron gives a short media conference, declaring that “our hearts go out to the victims” of today’s terror attacks.

He promises “solidarity in fighting this evil of terrorism” and calls it “a threat that faces all of us.”

Such terror attacks “can happen everywhere,” he says. What’s needed is a capacity to fight terrorism “at source” — whether Islamic State in Syria or elsewhere.

Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron, makes a statement to the media on the killing of British aid worker David Haines in Downing Street, central London, Sunday Sept. 14, 2014. (Photo credit: AP/PA, John Stillwell)

Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron. (AP/PA, John Stillwell)

Cameron laments the “poisonous radical narrative that is turning so many young minds,” and says, “We have to combat it with everything we have.”

He says this terrorism is “not in the name of Islam. Islam is a religion of peace.” The killers, rather, “do it in the name of a twisted, perverted ideology.”

Elkin urges French Jews to leave after factory beheading

An Israeli minister is urging French Jews to flee to Israel after an Islamist attack on a gas factory near Lyon where the severed head of a local businessman was pinned to the gates.

“I call on the Jews of France – come home! Anti-Semitism is rising, terror is increasing,” said Immigration Minister Zeev Elkin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

“We are prepared to receive with open arms the Jews of France,” he adds in a post on Facebook.

“This is a national mission of the highest priority,” he adds.

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) speaks during a session, on September 3, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Immigration Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud). (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

French president raises alert level after beheading

French President Francois Hollande says he is raising the security alert to the highest level for three days in the southeastern region where a suspect attacked an American gas factory.

Hollande spoke after a high-level security meeting this afternoon, hours after the attack on the factory left two people wounded. In addition, a local businessman was found decapitated at the factory site, along with banners carrying Arabic inscriptions.

French police say they have the main suspect in custody, along with the suspect’s wife and others. Hollande says the key question is to determine whether there were any accomplices.

— AP

PM says terror attacks underscore battle against ‘dark forces’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the numerous terror attacks witnessed today demonstrate that the world is locked in a struggle against “dark forces.”

“The brutal murders in France, Tunisia and Kuwait again underscore that the enlightened world is struggling against dark forces. The fight against the murderous terrorism of extremist Islam requires unity, the beginning of which is the unequivocal condemnation of the murderers and those who support them,” he says in a statement released to the media.

IS suicide attack kills 20 Syrian troops

Activists say an Islamic State attack has killed at least 20 regime troops in the northern part of the country.

Death toll in Tunisia attacks climbs to 37 — local TV

The death toll in the Islamist attacks on a beachfront resort in Sousse, Tunisia earlier today climbs to 37, according to local TV reports.

At least 39 are injured.

According to reports, a young man unfurled an umbrella and pulled out a Kalashnikov, opening fire on European sunbathers at the Tunisian beach resort.

The killings in Tunisia happened at about the same time as a bombing at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait and an attack on a US-owned factory in France that included a beheading.

It is unclear if the violence is linked but it came days after the IS militants urged their followers “to make Ramadan a month of calamities for the nonbelievers.”

— AP contributed

Pentagon says too soon to say if 3 attacks linked

A Pentagon spokesman says it is too early to say if the three attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France were coordinated.

Col. Steve Warren says the Pentagon condemns “these terrorist attacks” and will continue to work with international partners to fight the Islamic State group and other violent extremist groups.

He noted IS has claimed responsibility for one attack (Kuwait), but said the Pentagon continues to look into “whether or not these various and far-flung attacks were coordinated centrally or whether they were coincidental.”

— AP contributed

White House condemns ‘heinous’ attacks in Tunisia, France, Kuwait

The White House condemns the “heinous attacks” today in France, Kuwait and Tunisia, expressing solidarity and efforts to “fight the scourge of terrorism.”

“We stand with these nations as they respond to attacks on their soil today and we have been in contact with appropriate counterparts in all three countries to offer any necessary support,” a statement says.

IS and al-Qaeda want ongoing wave of terror, TV report says

Islamic State and Al-Qaeda are bent on sparking a continued wave of terrorism in Europe and the Middle East over the rest of the summer, says Israel’s Channel 10, quoting unnamed Western intelligence sources.

It notes that an Islamic State spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, called on Tuesday for Muslims to engage in jihad and become martyrs during the current holy month of Ramadan, and quotes the sources saying that IS and al-Qaeda are both encouraging “lone wolf” attacks and working to orchestrate more sophisticated strikes.

The TV report notes that IS, which claimed responsibility for several of Friday’s attacks, is marking a year since it declared a caliphate last June 29.

Highlighting a specific threat to Israel, the report quotes the intelligence sources warning that IS “intends to carry out major attacks from the Sinai,” across the border with Egypt, and possibly from the Golan Heights, across the border with Syria, where it has a heavy presence.

British tourists describe Tunisia beach horror

British tourists describe the horror they experienced at the beach resort in Tunisia where a gunman killed 37 people and wounded 36.

Olivia Leathley, 24, from Manchester in northwest England, tells Britain’s Press Association she saw one woman whose husband had been shot in the stomach in front of her.

She says the woman was “dragged away by hotel reps trying to get her to safety but she was a complete mess. She was in hysterics.”

Leathley says: “All she said was that he’d been shot and that he was there bleeding on the beach and he was just saying, ‘I love you, I love you,’ and then his eyes rolled back into his head.”

Debbie Horsfall from Huddersfield in northern England tells the BBC the gunman had started firing on people at the sandbanks right next to her.

“As he began to fire we just got up and ran straight to our hotel,” she says.

— AP

French suspect was allegedly involved in anti-Semitic attack in 2012

The French Islamist arrested on suspicion of having decapitated his boss at a gas factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, southeast of Lyon, earlier today, was allegedly involved in an anti-Semitic attack in 2012.

The man was identified as Yassine Salhi, 35, a father of three, born to an Algerian father and a Moroccan mother.

Four years ago, Salhi and another man were reported to have hit a Jewish teenager and to have hurled anti-Semitic abuse at him while travelling on a train from Toulouse to Lyon, according to a report on JTA.

 

Tunisian attacker identified as 23-year-old aviation student

The suspected terrorist who killed at least 37 people, mainly tourists, at a Tunisian beach resort earlier today, has been identified as Seifeddine Yacoubi a 23-year-old aviation student from Kairouan, south of Sousse where the rampage occurred.

He was killed in a firefight with security forces.

US urges citizens in France to be vigilant after beheading

The US Embassy in Paris is warning American citizens to be vigilant after a terrorist attack on a US-owned gas factory in southeastern France.

The embassy released a statement Friday night urging Americans to report suspicious activities and stay away from any security incidents.

— AP

At least 5 Britons killed in Tunisia attack

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says at least five Britons were among 37 dead in the attack on the Tunisian resort of Sousse earlier today

Hammond said the British death toll could rise.

The Foreign Office is advising Britons in hotels near the attack to remain in their hotels in case more attackers are on the loose, and to contact tour companies and British officials.

— AP contributed

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Elkin urges French Jews to leave after factory beheading

An Israeli minister is urging French Jews to flee to Israel after an Islamist attack on a gas factory near Lyon where the severed head of a local businessman was pinned to the gates.

“I call on the Jews of France – come home! Anti-Semitism is rising, terror is increasing,” said Immigration Minister Zeev Elkin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

“We are prepared to receive with open arms the Jews of France,” he adds in a post on Facebook.

“This is a national mission of the highest priority,” he adds.

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) speaks during a session, on September 3, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Immigration Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud). (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)