March 23, 2018

‘120 people believed dead’ by shooting and explosion in Paris

At least 120 people have died in Paris in a seemingly coordinated wave of gun and suicide bomb attacks, prompting the French president, François Hollande, to declare a state of emergency and bring in controls on the country’s borders.

At least eight of the attackers are dead, seven of them in suicide bombings, but witnesses to one shooting said police told them at least one attacker was still at large.

What seems likely to be the most deadly terrorist attack in Europe since the 2004 train bombings in Madrid saw attacks at six venues across Paris, including gun attacks at a rock concert and two restaurants, and a series of blasts near the Stade de France, where the national side were playing Germany in an international friendly football match.

Up to 120 people were killed in the bloodiest of the incidents, when gunmen opened fire inside the Bataclan concert venue in the 11th arrondissement, during a concert by the US rock group Eagles of Death Metal.

Many people in the crowd were reportedly held hostage before armed police stormed the venue, killing four attackers. Some of those inside the Bataclan theatre told AP three of the terrorists detonated suicide belts as French security forces closed in.

Police officials said two of the incidents near the stadium involved suicide attacks, with three people reported to be killed.

Across the city, a further 200 people have been injured, at least 80 of them seriously.

“I was on the first floor of the venue. And I was with a friend and we were in the middle of a concert listening to the music, having a good time, and then all of a sudden we heard gun shots.” Jenny Watson was on the first floor of Le Bataclan Concert Hall, listening to Eagles of Death Metal when three attackers with assault rifles entered the venue.3

Reports say eight attackers have been killed in Paris attack. Seven used suicide vests.

Paris is confronting shock and bewilderment after up to 120 people were feared to have been killed in what appeared to be a series of coordinated terrorist shootings outside bars, restaurants and a rock concert venue.

French police say they believe all of the attackers involved shootings and bombings in Paris are dead.

Micheal Cadot, the head of Paris police said Saturday that while all of the attackers are believed to have died, authorities are searching for possible accomplices in the attacks that left over 120 people dead.

In a move that recalled a French newspaper announcing “nous sommes tous Américains” in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, New York’s One World Trade Centre spire was lit blue, white and red to honour the victims of the Paris attacks New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Friday that the spire would be lit the colours of the Tricolor after the news that up to 120 people were feared dead. The governor said the act showed New York will stand with the people of France.

Paris prosecutor François Molins reported at least eight attackers had been killed across the city, seven of them in suicide bombings.

However, one witness told the Guardian that officers had warned him at least one of the terrorists had still not been apprehended.

Psychotherapist Mark Colclough, a British and Danish national, was standing near a cafe on the Rue de La Fointaine au Roi in the 11th arrondissement when a gunman opened fire on patrons inside.

“He [the attacker] was standing in a shooting position. He had his right leg forward and he was standing with his left leg back. He was holding up to his left shoulder a long automatic machinegun – I saw it had a magazine beneath it.”

Colclough said the man was left-handed and shooting in short bursts. “It was fully intentional, professional bursts of three or four shots.”

“Everything he was wearing was tight, either boots or shoes and the trousers were tight, the jumper he was wearing was tight, no zippers or collars. Everything was toned black.

“If you think of what a combat soldier looks like, that is it – just without the webbing. Just a man in military uniform, black jumper, black trousers, black shoes or boots and a machinegun.”

Colclough said police told him the killer he saw had not been caught.

“We were taken to the police station to give a witness statement. The gunman we saw has not been apprehended. They [the police] confirmed that on the way out. We asked if it was safe to walk home and they said definitely not.”

At Bataclan, one concertgoer, Julien Pearce, a journalist from Europe 1 radio, said he saw two or three men armed with Kalashnikov-type rifles burst in midway through the concert and begin “shooting blindly at the crowd” for a number of minutes.

“Everyone was running in all directions towards the stage,” he said. “It was a stampede and even I was trampled on. I saw a lot of people hit by bullets. The gunmen had loads of time to reload at least three times. They weren’t masked; they knew what they were doing; they were very young.”

The authorities warned people to remain indoors where possible and closed the Métro system.

The attacks come 10 months after 20 people died during attacks by Islamist gunmen on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, located close to the Bataclan theatre, and a kosher supermarket in Paris.

Hollande cancelled plans to attend this weekend’s G20 summit in Turkey and convened a cabinet meeting. In a TV address to the nation, he declared a state of emergency.

“This is a terrible ordeal that again assails us,” he said. “We know where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are.”

He said the attackers wanted “to scare us and fill us with dread”. He added: “There is dread, but in the face of this dread, there is a nation that knows how to defend itself, that knows how to mobilise its forces and, once again, will defeat the terrorists.”

The state of emergency would be in force across France, Hollande said, meaning some place might be closed and people searched. He said: “The second decision I have made is to close the borders. We must ensure that no one enters to commit any crimes and that those who have committed the crimes that we have unfortunately seen can also be arrested if they should leave the territory.”

The events brought immediate international condemnation, with the US president, Barack Obama, calling it “an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share”.

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