Tag Archives: Islamist extremism

Paris attacks: France vows “merciless” response

The Eiffel Tower in mourning on November 14, via Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo.

The Eiffel Tower in mourning on November 14, via Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo.

By Ingrid Melander and Marine Pennetier
November 14, 2015

French President Francois Hollande speaks at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, the day after a series of deadly attacks in the French capital, November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane de Sakutin/Pool

French President Francois Hollande speaks at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, the day after a series of deadly attacks in the French capital, November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Stephane de Sakutin/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) – An angry President Francois Hollande on Saturday promised a “merciless” response to a wave of attacks by gunmen and bombers that killed 127 people across Paris, describing the assault claimed by Islamic State as an act of war against France.

In the worst attack, a Paris city hall official said four gunmen systematically slaughtered at least 87 young people at a rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall before anti-terrorist commandos launched an assault on the building. Dozens of survivors were rescued, and bodies were still being recovered on Saturday morning.

Some 40 more people were killed in five other attacks in the Paris region, the official said, including an apparent double suicide bombing outside the Stade de France national stadium, where Hollande and the German foreign minister were watching a friendly soccer international.

The assaults came as France, a founder member of the U.S.-led coalition waging air strikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert for terrorist attacks.

It was the worst such attack in Europe since the Madrid train bombings of 2004, in which 191 died.

Hollande said the attacks had been organised from abroad by Islamic State, with internal help.

Sources close to the investigation said one of the dead gunmen was French with ties to Islamist militants. Syrian and Egyptian passports were found near the bodies of two of the suicide bombers.

A man arrested in Germany in early November after guns and explosives were found in his car may be linked to the attacks in Paris, Bavaria’s state premier said, without giving details.

 

French police with protective shields walk in line near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

French police with protective shields walk in line near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

“MERCILESS”

“Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action,” Hollande said after an emergency meeting of security chiefs. He also announced three days of national mourning.

“France will be merciless towards these barbarians from Daesh,” he said, using an Arab acronym for Islamic State.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement: “The war we must wage should be total.”

During a visit to Vienna, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “we are witnessing a kind of medieval and modern fascism at the same time.”

In its claim of responsibility, Islamic State said the attacks were a response to France’s campaign against its fighters.

It also distributed an undated video in which a militant said France would not live peacefully as long it took part in U.S.-led bombing raids against them.

“As long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear travelling to the market,” said a bearded Arabic-speaking militant, flanked by other fighters.

A French government source told Reuters there were 127 dead, 67 in critical condition and 116 wounded. Six attackers blew themselves up and one was shot by police. There may have been an eighth attacker, but this was not confirmed.

The attacks, in which automatic weapons and explosives belts were used, lasted 40 minutes.

“The terrorists, the murderers, raked several cafe terraces with machine-gun fire before entering (the concert hall). There were many victims in terrible, atrocious conditions in several places,” police prefect Michel Cadot told reporters.

Police patrol near the Eiffel Tower the day after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Police patrol near the Eiffel Tower the day after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

STATE OF EMERGENCY

After being whisked from the stadium near the blasts, Hollande declared a national state of emergency, the first since World War Two. Border controls were temporarily reimposed to stop perpetrators escaping.

Local sports events were suspended, department stores closed, the rock band U2 cancelled a concert, and schools, universities and municipal buildings were ordered to stay shut on Saturday. Some rail and air services were expected to run.

Sylvestre, a young man who was at the Stade de France when bombs went off there, said he was saved by his cellphone, which he was holding to his ear when debris hit it.

“This is the cell phone that took the hit, it’s what saved me,” he said. “Otherwise my head would have been blown to bits,” he said, showing the phone with its screen smashed.

French newspapers spoke of “carnage” and “horror”. Le Figaro’s headline said: “War in the heart of Paris” on a black background with a picture of people on stretchers.

Emergency services were mobilised, police leave was cancelled, 1,500 army reinforcements were drafted into the Paris region and hospitals recalled staff to cope with the casualties.

Radio stations warned Parisians to stay at home and urged residents to give shelter to anyone caught out in the street.

The deadliest attack was on the Bataclan, a popular concert venue where the Californian rock group Eagles of Death Metal was performing. Some witnesses in the hall said they heard the gunmen shout Islamic chants and slogans condemning France’s role in Syria.

The hall is near the former offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. France has been on high alert since Islamist gunmen attacked the paper and a kosher supermarket in January, killing 18 people.

Those attacks briefly united France in defence of freedom of speech, with a mass demonstration of more than a million people. But that unity has since broken down, with far-right populist Marine Le Pen gaining on both mainstream parties by blaming immigration and Islam for France’s security problems.

It was not clear what political impact the latest attacks would have less than a month before regional elections in which Le Pen’s National Front is set to make further advances.

The governing Socialist Party and the National Front suspended their election campaigns.

U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel led a global chorus of solidarity with France. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the “despicable attacks” while Pope Francis called the killings “inhuman”.

France ordered increased security at its sites abroad. Britain, Germany, Italy, Russia, Belgium, Hungary and the Netherlands also tightened security measures.

Poland, meanwhile, said that the attacks meant it could not now take its share of migrants under a European Union plan. Many of the migrants currently flooding into Europe are refugees from Syria.

Police patrol the Gare du Nord train station the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Police patrol the Gare du Nord train station the morning after a series of deadly attacks in Paris , November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

POINT-BLANK

Julien Pearce, a journalist from Europe 1 radio, was inside the concert hall when the shooting began. In an eyewitness report posted on the station’s website, Pearce said several very young individuals, who were not wearing masks, entered the hall during the concert, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and started “blindly shooting at the crowd”.

“There were bodies everywhere,” he said.

The gunmen shot their victims in the back, finishing some off at point-blank range before reloading their guns and firing again, Pearce said, after escaping into the street by a stage door, carrying a wounded girl on his shoulder.

Toon, a 22-year-old messenger who lives near the Bataclan, was going into the concert hall with two friends at around 10.30 p.m. (2130 GMT) when he saw three young men dressed in black and armed with machine guns. He stayed outside.

One of the gunmen began firing into the crowd. “People were falling like dominoes,” he told Reuters. He saw people shot in the leg, shoulder and back, with several lying on the floor, apparently dead.

Two explosions were heard near the Stade de France in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis, where the France-Germany soccer match was being played. A witness said one of the detonations blew people into the air outside a McDonald’s restaurant opposite the stadium.

In central Paris, shooting erupted in mid-evening outside a Cambodian restaurant in the capital’s 10th district.

Eighteen people were killed when a gunman opened fire on Friday night diners sitting at outdoor terraces in the popular Charonne area nearby in the 11th district.

 Copyright Reuters 2015

(Additional reporting by Geert de Clercq, Jean-Baptiste Vey, Emmanuel Jarry, Elizabeth Pineau, Julien Pretot and Bate Felix Tabi-Tabe; Writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Further reading:

Notebook: IS claims responsibility, world reacts
Reuters

Scores killed in Paris attacks
Reuters, Report & Photo-gallery

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Attacks rock France

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

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. … Continue reading Scores killed in Parisian attacks, hostages held

 

Posted in Current Affairs Also tagged , |

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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