France Vows 'Merciless' Response to ISIS-Claimed Attacks in Paris
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks that killed at least 129 people. President Francois Hollande called the attacks an 'act of war.'
Paris on Friday (Nov. 13) suffered a series of at least six nearly simultaneous attacks, attributed by president François Hollande to the ISIL terror group, which left at least 128 people dead and around 300 wounded.
The attacks shook the city during a normal, busy Friday night. They included a mass shooting at a concert hall, several shootings at bars and restaurants, and several bomb detonations, including more than one near France’s national stadium, where a soccer match between the French and German national teams was in progress. Eight assailants died, most via suicide after reportedly detonating explosive belts they were wearing.
Hollande called the attacks an “act of war” carried out by ISIL, and pledged that France would respond with a “merciless” fight against terrorism. He declared a state of national emergency, which included increased border security, as well as three days of national mourning.
It was the worst attack on a European target since the Madrid bombings in 2004, when 190 people were killed and more than 1,800 wounded, in four coordinated attacks on commuter trains. It is also the second terrorist attack on Paris this year, after gunmen killed journalists at the magazine Charlie Hebdo, a policewoman, and several people during an attack on a supermarket. In August, a heavily armed gunman was stopped on a train on its way from Brussels to Paris just before he was able to open fire on passengers.
ISIL claimed responsibility for the attacks in an apparent statement released on social media in Arabic and French. The statement, which has not yet been independently verified, called Paris “the capital of prostitution and obscenity,” and said that France’s actions in Syria were a factor in the decision to target the country. Vague generalities and no specific background information about those involved in the attacks suggests that ISIL may have inspired rather than directed the attacks.
The sites of the attacks
Stade de France
At about 9:20pm an explosion detonated near the French national stadium, where a soccer match between the French and German national teams was in progress. A second blast was heard 10 minutes later, and a third 20 minutes after that. Hollande, who was at the match, was quickly evacuated. No one apart from the bombers appear to have died in the blasts.
Le Petit Cambodge and Le Carrillon
At around the same time, several gunmen opened fire at Le Petit Cambodge, a Cambodian restaurant on rue Bichat, in the the trendy Canal Saint Martin neighborhood. Eleven people were killed, the AP reported, citing a police officials. Patrons of a nearby bar, Le Carrillon, were also injured in the shooting.
Just before 10 pm, in the worst single attack, around 87 people died when gunmen entered a large concert hall in the 11th arrondissement, where an American band, Eagles of Death Metal, were playing. The venue has capacity of 1,500 and was sold out, the BBC reported. Eyewitnesses described (link in French) the attackers as unmasked and young, and said they made concertgoers lie on the floor before opening fire on them.
French police stormed the building around midnight. At least one report from someone who escaped said the gunmen spoke to hostages, telling them that the attack was a response to France’s military interventions in Syria. France joined the US in airstrikes against ISIL in Syria in September.
La Belle Equipe
Le Monde reported that a gunman opened fire on the crowded terrace of a restaurant on the corner of Rue Faidherbe and Rue de Charonne. There were 19 victims.
Five people were killed during an explosion on a street called Rue de la Fontaine au Roi. A suicide bomber also detonated a blast on Boulevarde Voltaire. The New York Times reported that one person was killed.
Public buildings, schools, museums, and markets are closed today, and the police have temporarily banned demonstrations and other large gatherings. The Eiffel Tower has been closed indefinitely, according to the operator of the popular tourist attraction. There is increased security at the borders.
Attention is now turning to how such deadly, coordinated attacks could take place in a city that had so recently been struck by terrorists. Germany has offered the help of its security services, while other world leaders have sent messages of solidarity.
Discussion will intensify about how the attacks will affect Europe’s policy of open borders. These have been challenged in recent months as the flow of migrants, and especially refugees from war-torn countries like Syria, has dramatically increased.