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French, Belgian Police Work To Identify Those Responsible For Attacks

ROBERT SIEGEL, BYLINE: I'm Robert Siegel in Paris, reporting on the aftermath of Friday's terror attacks here. The investigation into those attacks is going on in France and also in Belgium where several of the attackers lived. The French president Francois Hollande spoke to the nation today in a rare joint session of parliament at the palace at the Palace of Versailles. And Parisians went back to school and to work today. I'm joined here by NPR's Paris correspondent Eleanor Beardsley. Hello, Eleanor.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Good evening, Robert.

SIEGEL: And first, tell us about what President Hollande said today in that speech.

BEARDSLEY: Well, President Hollande said France was at war with a terrorist army but that that army would not win and that France would fight. He said the French would never change their way of living and their values, and he asked the parliament to extend a state of emergency from 12 days to three months and give the government more powers to fight those terrorists.

SIEGEL: Eleanor, France is already in a very high state of security. What would they do differently?

BEARDSLEY: Well, Robert, that's true. Francois Hollande said 3,000 more soldiers would be put on the streets. France already has a surveillance law that is very invasive, and it has the power to stop citizens from leaving the country if they're suspected of being radicalized. They can take away their passports.

So the interior minister spoke this morning, and he said, we have all the tools in place; we just need to reorganize. And the president has asked to extend this emergency state. We saw an example of that this morning. There were raids all over the country in houses and apartments that had nothing to do with this terrorist attack. The police went in, arrested people and seized material and weapons. They were able to do that because of the state of emergency, and Hollande was to extend that state of emergency.

SIEGEL: And in terms of the investigation into the Friday night attacks, what's new there?

BEARDSLEY: There's still a manhunt for a - who's been called the eighth attacker of last Friday. He's a 26-year-old French national who rented the car and brought the gunmen to the concert hall where they killed almost a hundred people. He lives in Belgium, and there's a huge operation there to find him.

SIEGEL: How would you describe your sense of the feeling of people in this city here in Paris today?

BEARDSLEY: Well, people knew that today they had to go back to work and school. People say we need to be out, but they're jittery. I walked down a major boulevard today, and it felt very empty. There's been false alerts all over the city. And I went in front of a university building that had been evacuated because they found a suspect package. And everything was fine, and a talked to students out front. And I spoke to 21-year-old Perrine Mayer, and here's what she said.

PERRINE MAYER: Personally, I feel that there's a psychosis around and that everyone is just being crazy about everything. So I didn't really feel scared. Maybe someone else...

BEARDSLEY: You don't feel scared, but can you understand?

MAYER: Yeah, yeah. I do. I do. But I also think that it's very easy to start become very scary about everything. And I think we all have to be positive and think that it's about being united and not being afraid that we will keep going.

BEARDSLEY: And Robert, tonight, after being dark and in mourning for days, the Eiffel Tower is lit up in bleu, blanc, rouge - red, white and blue, the colors of the French flag.

SIEGEL: OK. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley. Thanks, Eleanor.

BEARDSLEY: Thank you, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.