BEIRUT (Reuters) - A magazine run by the Islamic State militant organisation has published an interview with the French widow of a Paris hostage taker, its first official claim that Hayat Boumeddiene is in their territory, which spans parts of Syria and Iraq.
France launched a search for the 26-year-old after police stormed a Jewish supermarket where her partner Amedy Coulibaly had taken hostages, four of whom were killed along with Coulibaly. Authorities described her as armed and dangerous.
Turkish officials said last month that Boumedienne had been in Turkey five days before the shootout, and crossed into Syria on Jan. 8.
Wednesday’s edition of Islamic State’s online French-language magazine, Dar al-Islam, ran an edition on the attacks in Paris and included an interview with a woman who it said was Coulibaly’s wife, although her name was not given.
Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the interview, which provided no photos or videos of Boumeddiene.
Asked how she felt when she entered the ‘caliphate’, the term Islamic State uses for the territory it controls, she was quoted as saying: “I did not encounter any difficulties (getting here), it is good to live in the land that is governed by the laws of God.”
She also said her husband had been an Islamic State supporter; Coulibaly himself had said he was carrying out the attack in the name of Islamic State.
Seventeen people, including journalists and police officers, were killed in three days of violence that began with the storming of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, Jan. 7, and ended with the hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket.
Two other gunmen were killed.
An official French police photograph shows Boumeddiene as a young woman with long dark hair hitched back over her ears.
French media released photos purporting to be of a fully-veiled Boumeddiene, posing with a crossbow, in what they said was a training session in 2010 in the mountainous Cantal region.
French media described her as one of seven children whose mother had died when she was young, and whose delivery-man father had struggled to keep working while looking after the family. As an adult, she lost her job as a cashier when she converted to Islam and started wearing the niqab, the Muslim facial veil.
Reporting by Oliver Holmes in Beirut and Ali Abdelatti in Cairo; Editing by Kevin Liffey