French jihadist police killer Abballa 'isolated' after jail

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A frame grab taken from Reuters video footage taken 14 June 2016 from an online video posted by Larossi Abballa, who police and justice sources have named as the man who stabbed a police commander to death outside his home and later killed his partner on Monday in an attack in Magnanville, a suburb of ParisImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
In a video put out by so-called Islamic State, Abballa is shown confessing to Monday's killings at the couple's home

The former girlfriend of the man who murdered a police couple at their home has spoken of his "isolation" after spending two-and-a-half years in jail.

The woman, who did not want to give her full name, told France Info radio the couple had dated for five years and remained close after they split up.

But after Larossi Abballa left jail last year, she said, he "preferred to keep his distance and changed friends".

A moment of silence was held for the murdered pair on Wednesday.

The town of Magnanville, west of Paris, was holding a memorial ceremony for police commander Jean-Baptiste Savaing, 42, and Jessica Schneider, 36, who were knifed to death there on Monday night.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls pledged his support for the police force but also warned of further attacks in an interview with France Inter radio.

"We need to tighten the net and give police and intelligence services all the means they need, but we will witness further attacks," he was quoted as saying.

"More innocents will lose their lives."

French police are already entitled to take their weapons home with them under a state of emergency imposed after the militant Islamist attacks on 13 November in which 130 people died. That measure will now be extended beyond the end of the state of emergency on 26 July.

In a video put out by a news agency linked to so-called Islamic State, Abballa was shown confessing to Monday's killings in the couple's home. He said he was heeding a call by IS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, who issued a message before the start of Ramadan inciting Muslims to target civilians in Europe and the US.

Abballa's ex-girlfriend told France Info (in French) she had been his last romantic interest.

"After me, he became religious," she said. "He wanted to pray properly.

"That didn't scare me because he was normal. He only said he'd like it if one day I became like him, and agreed to wear the veil. But at no time did he judge me, or stop talking to me because I wasn't veiled, or because I had holes in my jeans or wore leather... at no time."

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Jessica Schneider's throat was cut after her partner was fatally stabbed outside their home

Her last contact with Abballa, she said, had been a brief exchange three days before the attack in which he died, when he had rung asking to see her for 10 minutes.

She said she couldn't meet then and had rung back on Sunday, but "the number didn't work - as if the line had been cut".

It was only listening to the radio that she discovered that her former boyfriend was a police killer, she said.

Son's plight

On Tuesday evening, President Francois Hollande said that the couple's three-year-old son and a child from Jean-Baptiste Savaing's previous relationship would become wards of the state.

The status - which applies to children orphaned by acts of war, terrorism and in their parents' service to public security - means they will receive material assistance from the state as they grow up.

The couple's small son was at home when Abballa killed his parents. He was taken hostage for several hours, before Abballa was killed during the police assault.

He was later taken to the Necker children's hospital in Paris under the care of his grandparents. During the day the hospital was targeted by protesters against the government's labour reforms who threw projectiles and smashed windows.

Inspecting the damage on Wednesday morning, Mr Valls urged the hardline CGT union to stop organising mass rallies in the capital, condemning this "disgraceful spectacle, this lack of control... over the protesters".