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France to mourn Paris attack dead

Update: November, 27/2015 - 14:40

PARIS — France on Friday will mourn 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 France's worst-ever terror attack, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, will join some of the wounded at ceremonies at the Invalides, the gilded 17th-century complex in central Paris that houses a military hospital and museum and Napoleon's tomb.

The tribute will be "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."

Hollande will break from a whirlwind diplomatic bid to build a broad military coalition to defeat IS.

The marathon has taken him from Paris to Washington to Moscow in just a few days.

He is expected to make a 20-minute address at the one-hour ceremony, which will be 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.

But some victims' families have said they will snub the event, accusing the government of failing to tighten security after terror attacks in January, when jihadist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, mainly at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.

As the nation mourns the victims, an international manhunt is still on for two key suspects – Salah Abdeslam, who played a key logistical role in the wave of terror, and Mohamed Abrini, seen with Abdeslam two days before the November 13 atrocities.

France has stepped up its air strikes on IS targets in Syria and Iraq, where the group controls large areas of territory, and wants to create a more co-ordinated, concerted international effort to destroy the hardline Islamists.

Diplomatic push

On a visit to Moscow on Thursday, Hollande and Russian leader Vladimir Putin agreed to co-ordinate strikes against the jihadists.

"The strikes against Daesh (IS) will be intensified and be the object of co-ordination," Hollande said at a press conference after their meeting at the Kremlin.

The agreement to focus on IS targets was the most concrete progress from the final leg of Hollande's marathon push to weld together a broad alliance to crush IS after the Paris attacks.

But the French leader failed to gain any pledge from Putin over helping the US-led coalition which is targeting IS.

Hollande's diplomatic drive has secured some offers of support from France's allies but also run into coolness and complications.

The challenge has been made tougher by a spat between Moscow and Turkey over a downed Russian warplane on the Syrian-Turkish border.

The French leader has the support of Britain, whose Prime Minister David Cameron set out his case on Thursday for air strikes against IS in Syria, telling British MPs that the country could not "sub-contract" its security to allies.

He has also been backed by Germany, which has offered Tornado reconnaissance jets, a naval frigate, satellite images and aerial refuelling to help in the fight against IS.

Germany is also promising to send 650 soldiers to Mali to provide some relief to French forces fighting jihadists there. -- AFP

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