PARIS: In the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II, a wave of coordinated attacks left more than 128 dead in scenes of carnage in Paris Friday. The self-styled Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The assailants struck at least six very different venues, ranging from the national sports stadium to a pizzeria.
- At least 128 people were killed and 180 were left injured at multiple locations in the French capital
- Attackers targeted Bataclan concert hall, a sports stadium and restaurants
- Gunmen used AK-47s; one of the three explosions outside the stadium was caused by a suicide bomber
- At least eight militants were behind the attacks
- France declares emergency, closes borders
French President Francois Hollande on Saturday blamed the self-styled Islamic State (IS) group for the attacks in Paris that left at least 128 dead, calling them an “act of war”.
The multiple attacks across the city late Friday were “an act of war...committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State, against France, against...what we are, a free country,” Hollande said.
Hollande said he would address parliament on Monday in an extraordinary meeting and the country would observe three days of official mourning for the victims of Friday's attacks
“Terrorist attacks of an unprecedented level are underway across the Paris region,” Hollande said in an emotional televised message. “It's a horror."
President Francois declared a state of emergency across the entire country and cancelled his trip to the G20 summit due to take place this weekend in Turkey, in wake of what he called an unprecedented terrorist attack.
Investigators said at least eight attackers were dead by the end of the violence — the bloodiest in Europe since the Madrid train bombings in 2004 — with seven of them having blown themselves up.
According to a statement, issued from the presidency, 1,500 extra soldiers deployed to Paris after attacks.
The Paris metro railway was closed and schools, universities and municipal buildings were ordered to stay shut on Saturday. However some rail and air services are expected to run.
Paris closes city facilities, Disneyland
Schools, markets, museums and major tourist sites in the Paris area were closed on Saturday and sporting fixtures were cancelled following the terror attacks on the French capital, local authorities said.
“All city facilities are closed today,” Paris City Hall said on its website .
The list comprised schools, museums, libraries, sports halls, swimming pools, tennis courts, food markets and district town halls.
Only civil registration offices, to record marriages, will be open, it said, adding that security would be beefed up at town halls
Separately, the French secretary of state for sports issued instructions to sports federations to cancel matches this weekend.
Cancelled events include a European Champions Cup rugby match between Racing 92 and the Glasgow Warriors.
Irish rock band U2 also called off a Paris concert planned for Saturday.
The Eiffel Tower was closed according to a message on its website that did not say how long it would remain shuttered.
Disneyland Paris, which is located on the eastern rim of the Paris region, said it would not open on Saturday “in light of the recent tragic events in France and in support of our community and the victims of these horrendous attacks.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by these horrible events,” it said.
Concert venue attacked
A full house of 1,500 people were packed into the popular venue in eastern Paris for a concert by the US band Eagles of Death Metal.
About an hour after the band took to the stage, the whole concert hall was turned into “a bloodbath” according to a French radio reporter at the scene.
Four black-clad gunmen wielding AK-47s stormed into the hall and fired calmly and methodically at hundreds of screaming concert-goers, killing at least 100.
Fellow radio presenter Pierre Janaszak heard the first shots and thought it was part of the act.
“But we quickly understood. They were just firing into the crowd.”
Four assailants were killed after police stormed in — three by activating their suicide vests and a fourth shot dead — but not before they had mown down some 100 people.
All members of the California-based band that was to perform at the Paris venue are safe and have been accounted for, a US official briefed by the Justice Department said.
Three loud explosions were heard outside France's national stadium during the first half of a friendly international football match between France and Germany.
At least five people died outside the glittering venue which staged the 1998 World Cup final with several others seriously hurt.
One of the explosions was near a McDonald's restaurant on the fringes of the stadium.
At least one of the two explosions in rue Jules-Rimet was a suicide bomb attack.
French President Francois Hollande, who was watching the game, was immediately evacuated.
The match was eventually completed and the stadium emptied in a relatively calm atmosphere.
Japanese restaurant targeted
A little further east on Rue de Charonne 18 people were killed, with one witness saying a Japanese restaurant was the main target.
“There was blood everywhere,” the witness said.
Another man said he heard shots ring out, in sharp bursts, for two or three minutes.
“I saw several bloody bodies on the ground. I don't know if they were dead,” he said.
Cambodian restaurant attacked
Pierre Montfort lives close to a Cambodian restaurant on Paris' Rue Bichat, a little further north, was the scene of another attack.
“We heard the sound of guns, 30-second bursts. It was endless. We thought it was fireworks,” he said.
Florence said she arrived by scooter a minute or so after.
“It was surreal, everyone was on the ground. No one was moving inside the Petit Cambodge restaurant and everyone was on the ground in bar Carillon,” she said.
“It was very calm — people didn't understand what was going on. A young girl was being carried in the arms of a young man. She seemed to be dead.”
A few hundred metres from the Bataclan, the terrace of the Casa Nostra pizzeria was targeted.
Five people were killed by attackers wielding automatic rifles, according to witness Mathieu, 35.
“There were at least five dead around me, others in the road, there was blood everywhere. I was very lucky."
Explosion at Boulevard Voltaire
An eighth attacker blew himself up in Boulevard Voltaire near the concert venue, as the streets of the capital were filled with the sound of police sirens and convoys of ambulances shipping the injured to hospital.
The most bloody of the attacks was at the Bataclan, where police said around 100 people were killed.
“We heard so many gunshots and the terrorists were very calm, very determined,” Julien Pearce, a reporter for France's Europe 1 radio, told CNN while the hostage crisis was still underway.
“They reloaded three or four times ... and they didn't shout anything. They didn't say anything." He said friends were still inside as he spoke.
“They are hiding in some kind of room in the dark and they text(ed) me, and they are very afraid, of course, and they are waiting for the police to intervene, but it's been over two hours now and this is terrible."
Hundreds of police had gathered outside and armed officers eventually stormed the venue at around 2335 GMT, accompanied by a series of explosions.
At the Stade de France, spectators flooded the pitch as news of the attacks spread before organisers started evacuations.
Stunned onlookers had begun to emerge from nearby bars, while many others continued to eat their meals in restaurants, apparently unaware of the carnage that had taken place only a few metres away.
“We heard gunfire, 30 seconds of fire, it was interminable, we thought it was fireworks,” said Pierre Montfort, who lives near rue Bichat, where one of the attacks took place.
President Francois Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that a crisis cell had been set up.
“The president of the Republic, the prime minister, the interior minister are in a inter-ministerial crisis cell,” the government said in a statement.
Counter-terrorism prosecutors said they had opened a preliminary investigation.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, called for residents to stay at home.
The president office stated that Hollande has cancelled his visit to the G20 summit in Turkey following a wave of attacks in Paris. He will be represented by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Finance Minister Michel Sapin.
Condolences, condemnations pour in
UN: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks and called for any hostages to be immediately released.
“The secretary-general condemns the despicable terrorist attacks carried out today in various locations in and around Paris,” according to a statement from his spokesman.
“The secretary-general extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured. He stands with the government and people of France."
US: President Barack Obama led a chorus of global condemnation, saying it was “an attack on all of humanity”.
“Whenever these kinds of attacks happen, we've always been able to count on the French people to stand with us. They have been an extraordinary counterterrorism partner. And we intend to be there with them in that same fashion,” Obama said in a brief speech from the White House.
Pakistan: Pakistan said it “strongly” condemns the Paris attacks and “reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned “this act of terror... this brutal carnage” while President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain while expressing solidarity with people of France termed the terrorists "enemies of humanity".
“The people and Government of Pakistan wish to convey their heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the bereaved families and the people and Government of France. We stand with them in their hour of grief. We pray for speedy recovery of the injured,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan expressed grief over today's attacks in Paris and also condemned the recent bombings in Lebanon.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to France Ghalib Iqbal said that all Pakistanis residing in France are safe and no Pakistani was among those killed or injured in Paris shooting.
Talking to Dawn.com from Paris, Iqbal said "a helpline has been established at the embassy to provide assistance to Pakistanis in the wake of Paris shooting. The contact number is 0033780858682 and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org".
Vatican: The Vatican has condemned the terror attacks in Paris as “an attack on peace for all humanity."
The Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement early Saturday that the violence requires “a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread of homicidal hatred in all of its forms."
Saudi Arabia: The “heinous” Paris attacks are a violation of all religions and underline the need to intensify efforts against “terrorism,” Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said Saturday as he arrived for talks on ending Syria's civil war.
“I wanted to express our condolences to the government and people of France for the heinous terrorist attacks that took place yesterday which are in violation and contravention of all ethics, morals and religions,” Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Vienna.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long called for more intensified international efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and shapes,” he said.
Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said they were “deeply shocked” by the attacks.
Britain: British Prime Minister David Cameron also said he was “shocked” after at least 18 people were reported killed in multiple attacks in Paris, including one near the Stade de France sports stadium.
“I am shocked by events in Paris tonight,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people. We will do whatever we can to help."
Russia: The Kremlin also condemned the “hateful “string of attacks and the “inhuman murders” in Paris, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Russian news agencies reported.
President Vladimir Putin offered condolences and support to his counterpart Francois Hollande and the French people, TASS news agency said.
Iran: Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has sent a message to French President Francois Hollande condemning the terror attacks in Paris that killed over 128 people.
The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Rouhani as saying Saturday that Iran “itself has been a victim of the scourge of terrorism” and the fight against terrorism must go on. Rouhani also canceled visits to France and Italy, due in a few days.
Canada: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed solidarity with France. "I am shocked and saddened that so many people have been killed and injured in violent attacks in Paris,” Trudeau said, offering his condolences.
“Canada stands with France at this dark time and offers all possible assistance."
China: China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei says China is “deeply shocked” by the attacks and pledged solidarity with France in combating terrorism.
“Terrorism is a common challenge facing humanity. China resolutely supports France in maintaining its national security and stability and in attacking terrorism,” Hong said.
Egypt: Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has condemned the Paris attacks and is conveying condolences to the victims.
A statement from his office on Saturday called for “concerted international efforts” to combat “the scourge of terrorism, which aims to destabilize security and stability in various parts of the world, without distinction.”
The head of Sunni Islam's leading seat of learning, Cairo's Al-Azhar, on Saturday condemned “hateful” attacks in Paris that killed more than 120 people and urged global unity against extremism.
“We denounce this hateful incident,” Ahmed al-Tayyeb told a conference in comments broadcast by Egyptian state television. “The time has come for the world to unite to confront this monster."
“Such acts are contrary to all religious, humanitarian and civilised principles,” Tayyeb said at the opening of the conference in the southern city of Luxor focused on combating “extremist thought”.
Israel: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country stands “shoulder to shoulder” with France in the “war against terrorism.”
Facebook sets up safety check for Paris friends
Facebook launched a check-in feature to let people know that friends in Paris were safe after a series of bombings and shootings.
The “Paris Terror Attacks” safety check let people signal whether they were out of harm's way, then notified all those they know at the leading social network.
“Quickly find and connect with friends in the area,” a message at the Facebook Safety Check page read.
“Mark them safe if you know they're OK."
The feature also allowed people to check which friends listed as being in Paris had not yet checked in as safe.
France has been on high alert since the attacks in January against Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket that left 17 dead. Several other attacks have been foiled through the year.
— With additional input by Mateen Haider from Islamabad.