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‘France has identified leader of Paris attacks’

Abdelhamid Abaaoud was initially described as the leader of the machinegun and suicide bomb attacks.

FILE: Rescuers evacuate an injured person on Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, close to the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, early on 14 November 2015. Picture: AFP.

PARIS - French authorities say they have identified the commander of 13 November Islamist militant attacks on Paris and know that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, cornered and killed days later by police, played a lesser role.

Newly published official documents cite testimony by Bernard Bajolet, France's head of external security, to a closed-door parliamentary inquiry into France's anti-terrorism activities held on May 24.

Bajolet did not identify who authorities now think was commander, or whether the person is alive or dead.

Abaaoud was initially described as the leader of the machinegun and suicide bomb attacks on the Bataclan music hall, Paris bars and restaurants, and the Stade de France football stadium, in which 130 people died.

"It is true that Abaaoud was a coordinator, but he was not the commander," Bajolet was quoted as saying.

"We know who the commander is, but I will stay discreet on that point.

"We now have a good knowledge of the organogram… We have made progress on these subjects, we therefore have an idea of the identity of the commander."

Parliament published recommendations of the inquiry last week and released its full report on Tuesday.

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