Six arrests in France over theft of Banksy artwork from Bataclan

Mural to victims of 2015 Paris attacks was found in Italy after its removal from outside theatre

Police have arrested six people in France over the theft of a work by the British street artist Banksy that commemorated the victims of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.

Thieves used an angle grinder to remove the mural of a mourning girl from a steel security door at the Bataclan concert hall, where 90 people died during a wave of shootings and bombings across the city that left 130 dead.

The Banksy work, stencilled in white paint, was found in good condition in Italy earlier this month after a joint operation by French and Italian police.

Police made the arrests across France in a coordinated operation. Two people have been put under investigation for organised theft, while the other four are accused of concealing the theft. All have been placed in custody awaiting trial.

The artwork, part of a series made by Banksy during a visit to Paris in 2018, was stolen from the Bataclan in January 2019. Video footage showed the hooded thieves cutting through the fire door. Detectives announced earlier this month they had found the work in an abandoned farmhouse in the Abruzzo region east of Rome.

The theft caused widespread anger in France. The Bataclan said it was a “symbol of remembrance and belongs to all: locals, Parisians, citizens of the world”.

In what the then president, François Hollande, described as an “act of war”, terrorists carried out a series of shootings and suicide bombings across the French capital on 13 November 2015. Islamic State later claimed responsibility.

Last November, French prosecutors announced 20 suspects would go on trial for the attacks, including Salah Abdeslam, who is suspected of being the sole surviving member of the group of heavily armed gunmen and bombers. Abdeslam was arrested in Belgium several months later after an international manhunt. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Belgium after being found guilty of the attempted murder of police officers in a shootout in Brussels in March 2016. He was extradited to France afterwards.

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Kim Willsher in Paris

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