'Urgent' need to bolster EU external border controls: French PM
(PARIS) - France's prime minister on Wednesday said there was an "urgent need" to tighten controls on the European Union's external borders after deadly bombings in Brussels claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.
"There is an urgent need to strengthen the external borders of the European Union," Manuel Valls told French radio.
Heightened vigilance was required to stop people crossing into Europe with false passports, as IS has "stolen a large number of passports in Syria," he said.
Europe is facing a security crisis after Tuesday's triple bomb attacks in Brussels, which left around 30 dead, and the November 13 bomb and gun assaults in Paris that killed 130.
Two of the suicide bombers involved in the Paris attack were found with fake Syrian passports and several crossed into Europe posing as refugees.
Belgian television reported Wednesday that two of the suicide bombers who blew themselves up in Brussels were brothers linked to Salah Abdeslam, thought to be the last surviving member of the core group that attacked Paris.
Abdeslam was arrested on Friday after a four-month manhunt, and his fingerprints were found in an apartment rented by Khalid El Bakraoui, believed to have blown himself up alongside his brother Ibrahim.
"At this stage more than 30 people have been identified as linked to the Paris attacks. Eleven are dead, 12 are under lock and key and others are still wanted," said Valls.
"Were some of them involved in the Paris attacks? We will see, the investigation will reveal this," he added.
"These attacks are organised from Syria... with a base, it is obvious, in Belgium but also in France."
Valls again urged the adoption of a Europe-wide system of tracking airline passenger names, an initiative that has led to misgivings among critics over the use and security of personal data.
France has led the calls for adopting the Passenger Name Record (PNR) system first mooted in 2010, which would cover all international and internal EU flights while providing safeguards on access to and use of the data collected.