Scores killed in Parisian attacks, hostages held

A general view of the scene that shows rescue services personnel working near the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A general view of the scene that shows rescue services personnel working near the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

By Reuters reporters and photographers
November 14, 2015

A member of the French fire brigade aids an injured individual near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

A member of the French fire brigade aids an injured individual near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

PARIS (Reuters) – France was rocked by multiple, near simultaneous attacks on entertainment sites around Paris on Friday evening and French media said at least 60 people were killed and hostages were being held in a concert hall in the capital.

The apparently coordinated gun and bomb attacks came as the country, a founder member of the U.S.-led coalition waging air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert for terrorist attacks ahead of a global climate conference that opens later this month.

Western security sources said they suspected an Islamist militant group was behind the carnage.

At least two explosions were heard near the Stade de France national stadium where a France-Germany friendly football match was being played, attended by President Francois Hollande.

The match continued until the end but panic broke out in the crowd as rumours of the attack spread, and spectators were held in the stadium and assembled spontaneously on the pitch.

There were reports of possibly as many as four shootings in central Paris, one of which turned into a hostage taking at a popular rock music venue, witnesses said.

TF1 television said up to 35 people were dead near the football stadium, including two suspected suicide bombers in the attack in the neighbourhood of Saint Denis, north of central Paris.

Police helicopters circled the stadium as Hollande was rushed back to the interior ministry to deal with the situation. The president’s office said he had called an emergency cabinet meeting for 2300 GMT to manage the crisis.

Police confirmed there had been shootings and explosions at the stadium, but not the number of casualties.

In central Paris, shooting erupted in mid-evening outside a Cambodian restaurant in the capital’s 10th district and the Bataclan music hall, where bystanders were evacuated as elite police commandos took up position.

Crowds leave the Stade de France where explosions were reported to have detonated outside the stadium during the France vs German friendly match near Paris, November 13, 2015.      REUTERS/Gonazlo Fuentes

Crowds leave the Stade de France where explosions were reported to have detonated outside the stadium during the France vs German friendly match near Paris, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Gonazlo Fuentes

Several witnesses told television stations that up to 60 hostages were being held inside the popular concert venue.

“There are lots of people here. I don’t know what’s happening, a sobbing witness who gave her name only as Anna told BFM TV outside the Bataclan hall. “It’s horrible. There’s a body over there. It’s horrible.”

Elsewhere, police cordoned off a wide area around the Petit Cambodge restaurant where witnesses said gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles had fired at diners through the plate-glass windows, causing multiple casualties.

“I was on my way to my sister’s when I heard shots being fired. Then I saw three people dead on the ground, I know they were dead because they were being wrapped up in plastic bags,” student Fabien Baron told Reuters.

There were also reports of shootings in rue de Charonne in the 11th district and at the central Les Halles shopping centre.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Paris attacks, which came within days of attacks claimed by Islamic State militants on a Shi’ite Muslim district of southern Beirut in Lebanon, and a Russian tourist aircraft which crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Earlier on Friday, the United States and Britain said they had launched an attack in the Syrian town of Rakka on a British Islamic State militant known as “Jihadi John” but it was not certain whether he had been killed.

Copyright Reuters 2015

(Reporting by Paris Newsroom; Writing by Paul Taylor; Editing by James Dalgleish)

 

French fire brigade members aid an injured individual near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.  REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

French fire brigade members aid an injured individual near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

People react as they gather to watch the scene near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.  REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

People react as they gather to watch the scene near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

French police secure the area near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.  REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

French police secure the area near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A man lies on the ground as French police check his identity near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. The man was later released after his identity was verified.    REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

A man lies on the ground as French police check his identity near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. The man was later released after his identity was verified. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

French special forces evacuate people, including an injured man holding his head, as people gather near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

French special forces evacuate people, including an injured man holding his head, as people gather near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

General view of the scene with rescue service personnel working near covered bodies outside a restaurant following shooting incidents in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.   REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

General view of the scene with rescue service personnel working near covered bodies outside a restaurant following shooting incidents in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

French riot police secure the area near the Bataclan concert hall following a fatal shooting at a restaurant in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

French riot police secure the area near the Bataclan concert hall following a fatal shooting at a restaurant in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

French fire brigade members secure the area near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

French fire brigade members secure the area near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

A general view of the scene shows rescue service personnel working near the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.   REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A general view of the scene shows rescue service personnel working near the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A general view of the scene that shows rescue services near the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.   REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A general view of the scene that shows rescue services near the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A general view of the scene that shows the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015.   REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

A general view of the scene that shows the covered bodies outside a restaurant following a shooting incident in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

 

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