One hundred and 27 people died and nearly 100 more were injured as Paris suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe since the Madrid train bombings of 2004, in which 191 people died. Eight attackers launched a devastating series of coordinated shootings and explosions at six locations across the French capital.
The deadliest incident took place at a large Parisian music venue when four terrorists attacked a packed concert by the American rock group Eagles of Death Metal, killing 87 people. The gunmen were said to have fired indiscriminately with automatic weapons and it was during this assault witnesses say they heard some of the attackers shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is greatest’ in Arabic) and also mention France’s airstrikes against Isis in Syria. Around midnight, shortly after President François Hollande addressed the nation on TV, French special forces stormed Le Bataclan to end what had become a hostage situation. Three of the attackers then blew themselves up while a fourth was shot dead by the security forces.
President Hollande was attending an international friendly between France and Germany at the national stadium when the first explosion occurred about 20 minutes into the match. With reports of the unfolding incidents filtering in, Hollande received a security briefing before leaving the stadium.
Further explosions occurred at 9.30pm and 9.50pm – all three the result of suicide bombers blowing themselves up at food outlets outside the stadium. One of these attacks is believed to have killed three people. Despite all three explosions being audible within the stadium, the match played to a finish with supporters congregating on the pitch at full-time before they were evacuated.
Nineteen people died after al fresco diners and drinkers were again targeted. This time there were said to have been two gunmen with the shooting lasting for three minutes. Witnesses described scenes of bodies piled outside the bar with residents in apartment blocks throwing down blankets and sheets to cover the victims.
Fourteen people died in a double-attack on a cafe bar and Cambodian restaurant were metres apart from each other. Witnesses described how a gunman first opened fire on at Le Carillon cafe bar before turning his gun on people dining at Le Petit Cambodge.
Five people died after a man dressed in black military-style clothing opened fire with an automatic machine gun. An eyewitness described how the attacker first shot at people dining outside the Casa Nostra pizzeria before entering the premises to continue the attack. The same witness describing hearing 15-20 shots inside the restaurant and also noted how the gunman was firing in controlled bursts.
The Islamic State militant group has released a statement claiming responsibility for Friday night’s and has threatened further attacks against France. The group says the killings were in response to airstrikes against its militants in Syria, adding France would remain a “key target”.
President François Hollande also said Isis was to blame for the terror attacks across Paris. He said the attacks were an “act of war” and declared three days of national mourning.
Eight gunmen were involved and all are understood to be dead. One was French and was known to police. Another gunman was found with a Syrian passport and travelled to France through Greece last month. Belgian police have conducted raids in Brussels and made several arrests.
World leaders have expressed outrage, with many pledging to help France with the ongoing investigation. Barack Obama says America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with France. The Vatican has also condemned the attack as “mad terrorist violence”.
((Sourced from The Guardian))