1995 France bombings
This article is a rough translation from French. It may have been generated by a computer or by a translator without dual proficiency.
|1995 France bombings|
|Part of Algerian Civil War (spillover)|
Plaque commemorating the victims of the Saint-Michel station bombing on 25 July 1995
|Location||Paris and Lyon, France|
|Date||25 July 1995 –|
17 October 1995
|Weapons||Improvised explosive devices, school bombing|
|Perpetrator||Armed Islamic Group|
|Motive||To induce the French government to withdraw support from the Algerian government during the Algerian Civil War|
The 1995 bombings in France were carried out by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), who were broadening the Algerian Civil War to France. The bombs targeted public transport systems in Paris and Lyon Metropolis, including a school in Lyon. The attacks killed eight people - all of them in the first attack on 25 July - and injured about 157. The assassination of Abdelbaki Sahraoui, a co-founder of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) who opposed attacks in France, was a prelude of this extension of the Islamists' terrorist campaign to France.
On 25 July 1995, a gas bottle exploded in the Saint-Michel station of line B of the RER (Paris regional train network). Place Saint-Michel and the surrounding bridges and streets filled with emergency vehicles. Parvis Notre-Dame became a helicopter landing site while a nearby cafe, Le depart Saint-Michel, was used as a field hospital. At 8pm, France 2 news announced that four people had died and another 40 were injured in a "mysterious explosion". At that time, no official sources had confirmed that it was a terrorist attack. The terrorist attack was later confirmed, and the final outcome was said to be eight deaths and 117 injured. It was the deadliest terror attack in France since the 1983 Orly Airport attack, and would be the only deadly attack in the GIA's 1995 bombing campaign in France.
On 26 August, a huge bomb was found on the railroad tracks of a high-speed rail line near Lyon. It was supposed to explode when a train passed. Fingerprints of Khaled Kelkal and Boualem Bensaïd were found on the bomb. A leader of the group, Khaled Kelkal was quickly identified and his picture appeared all over France. Bomb attacks continued - on 3 September on an open market in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, causing three injuries; and on 7 September when a car bomb exploded near a Jewish school in Villeurbanne, a town near Lyon, causing thirteen injuries.
The wanted suspect Khaled Kelkal was killed on 29 September by members of the French EPIGN gendarmerie unit while resisting arrest in hills near Lyon. Yet the attacks continued. On 6 October, the day of Khaled Kelkal’s funeral, another gas bottle exploded in the Maison Blanche station of the Paris Métro, wounding twelve. Boualem Bensaïd’s fingerprints were again found again on the bomb. The next day, a statement from GIA commander Djamel Zitouni, written on 23 September, arrived at the Reuters press agency in Cairo. He said the "Jihad", the "military strikes at the heart of France" were intended to punish it for supporting the Algerian government. A letter was also sent to Jacques Chirac through the French Embassy in Algiers, urging him to convert to Islam.
On 17 October, a gas bottle exploded between the Musée d'Orsay and Saint-Michel–Notre-Dame stations of RER Line C, wounding 29. Investigators found a transportation card on Smaïn Aït Ali Belkacem used a few minutes before the attack in a nearby subway station.
Additional bombs were found and cleared without casualties during morning searches of Metro and RER stations, often in restrooms. Increased security mandated the removal of all public trash receptacles, to prevent bombs from being hidden within.
Arrests and trials
Members of the Armed Islamic Group and the "Kelkal Group" have since been prosecuted on various charges. A number of suspects fled to the United Kingdom. Extradition proceedings against Rachid Ramda began in 1995 and went on for nearly ten years, during which Ramda remained detained in London's Belmarsh Prison. Ramda was eventually extradited to France on 1 December 2005 in connection with the bombings. On 26 October 2007, Ramda was sentenced to life in prison for financing the attacks.
Algeria-France relations were heavily affected by these events. Chirac refused to welcome the Algerian ministers, openly saying that the GIA could have been manipulated by the Algerian secret services.
Legislation on terrorism in France was reinforced with a new law in 1996 allowing police forces to perform searches at night. Paris also suspended the Schengen Acquis and did not lift the border controls until March 1996.
Vigipirate, activated in September 1995, is still in place in 2018. The crisis lessened when Lionel Jospin became prime minister in 1997 and Abdelaziz Bouteflika became the new Algerian president.
- Boualem Bensaid
- Khaled Kelkal
- Rachid Ramda
- Djamel Zitouni
- Transit police
- List of terrorist incidents in France
- 1996 Paris Métro bombing
- Air France Flight 8969
Notes and references
- "Rachid Ramda jugé pour l'ultime procès des attentats de 1995", in Libération, October 1, 2007 read on-line (in French)
- France 2 News, July, 25th 1994 on INA website
- Julien Lariège, Islamistes algériens au cœur de l'Europe, Ellipses, 2005, p. 113
- France 2 News, 17 August 1994 on INA website
- Hassane Zerrouky, "Attentats de 1995: comment le GIA a tissé sa toile", L’Humanité, June 1st 1999
- Christophe Ayad et Franck Johannes, "Au lendemain de l'explosion d'une bombe à Paris, un message attribué au Groupe islamique armé dénonce le soutien français au régime d'Alger Un texte signé du GIA revendique la vague d'attentats et prône le 'jihad' en France", Libération, October 9th 1995
- Sophie Bouniot, "Des dénégations absurdes face aux preuves irréfutables" [archive], humanite.fr, October 24th 2002
- "Terrorism and the law: The non-trial". The Economist, 20 October 2005.
- UK sends back Metro bomb accused, BBC, 1 December 2005 (in English)
- French court convicts Algerian of Paris bombings
- Petersson, Claes (2005-07-13). "Terrorbas i Sverige" (in Swedish). Aftonbladet. Archived from the original on 6 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-03.
- Une politique de l’oubli. La mémoire de la guerre en France et en Algérie, Le sociographe, number 46, June 2014, pp. 85-95
- Laurent Bonelli, "Les caractéristiques de l'antiterrorisme français: "Parer les coups plutôt que panser les plaies"", http://www.lemonde.fr, September 11th 2008
- Jean Quatremer, "Jacques Chirac verrouille les frontières françaises. L'entrée en vigueur de Schengen serait repoussée.", Libération, September 20th 1995
- Matthieu Suc, "Vigipirate : la permanence d’un état d’exception", Le Monde, September 7th 2015
- Guy Pervillé, "Vingt ans après 1995: les attentats de Paris, Lyon et Lille reconsidérés", http://www.lefigaro.fr, July 24th 2015