Terror returns in Paris

Gunmen and bombers attacked restaurants, a concert hall and a sports stadium at locations across Paris on Friday, killing 127 people in a deadly rampage that President Francois Hollande said was the work of Islamic State, Reuters reports.

According to media reports, another 200 were injured after a night of coordinated gun and bomb attacks in the city. Gunmen burst into Bataclan concert hall taking dozens hostage in a seige that ended – with eighty dead – when security forces stormed the building. Meanwhile, people were shot dead at bars and restaurants in five other sites around the city.

Eight extremist attackers have reportedly been killed. Residents of Paris have been asked to stay indoors and about 1,500 military personnel are being deployed across the city.

A state of emergency has been declared across France while residents have been told to stay indoors and all amenities, such as libraries, gyms and swimming pools, have been closed. According to the law, the state of emergency will run for 12 days and nights and will entail shut down services until Parisians are otherwise notified.

Where the attacks took place:

Le Bataclan concert venue on Boulevard Voltaire, one of the best-known music venues in the city. Attackers shot at cafes outside before storming into the panicked audience. When police closed in three attackers detonated suicide vests causing explosions.

Two suicide attacks at Stade de France carried out simultaneously near two of the stadium entrances and a nearby McDonald’s restaurant. Spectators were evacuated from the stadium, many of which were singing the French National anthem as they were evacuated.

Attackers open-fired at Le Belle Equipe, a sidewalk terrace, killing as many as 18 people.

Le Carillon, a bar cafe, was targeted with gunfire.

At the Cambodian restaurant, Petit Cambodge, diners thought there were fireworks before realising that they were being shot at and trying to flee.

President Hollande

French President Francois Hollande, at the Stade de France stadium at the time of the deadly attacks at seven destinations around Paris at dawn on Saturday, made a statement regarding the attacks:

“We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless. Because when terrorists are capable of committing such atrocities they must be certain that they are facing a determined France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow.”

Earlier today [Nov 14], President Hollande held an emergency security meeting with ministers and military chiefs.

An additional 1,500 soldiers have been mobilised to guard Paris’s parliament buildings, religious sites, and tourist attractions. Schools and universities, many of which normally open on Saturdays, have been closed as part of emergency security measures across the city.

However some rail and air services are expected to run, Reuters notes.

The government has also reimposed border controls that were abandoned as part of Europe’s free-travel zone. Border and customs officers will check people, baggage and vehicles entering and leaving France by road, train, sea or plane, said customs official Melanie Lacuire.

World leaders

US President Obama: “an attack on all of humanity”. US Secretary of State John Kerry described the attacks on Paris as “heinous, evil” and “vile”. He said that the U.S. Embassy is doing all it cn to account for the safety of US citizens in the region.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull: attack has “all the hallmarks of a Daesh (Islamic State) exercise” and said they were “truthfully the work of the devil.”

China’s president Xi Jinping condemned the attacks as “barbarous acts”.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the attacks were “despicable”, whereas UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric says Ban “trusts that the  French authorities will do all in their power to bring the perpetrators to justice quickly.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is “deeply shaken by the news and pictures that are reaching us from Paris.” Speaking to reporters in Berlin, the German chancellor said the victims “wanted to live the life of free people in a city that celebrates freedom”, and called the gunmen “murderers who hate precisely this life of freedom”.

Iranian President Houssan Rouhani sent a message to French President Francois Hollande condemning the terror attacks and said  that Iran “itself has been a victim of the scourge of terrorism” and the fight against terrorism must go on. He also canceled his visits to France and Italy.

British PM David Cameron says he is “shocked” by the Paris attacks and violence.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida is “deeply shocked and outraged” by the news of the terrorist attacks in Paris. “We strongly condemn the act of terrorism, which we do not tolerate for any reason,” he said, expressing condolences to the victims and their families.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to our French cousins in this dark and terrible time.”

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement: “We condemn (the attack) in the most radical way together with the pope and all those who love peace.”

European Council

In a letter to President François Hollande, European Council President Donald Tusk wrote:

“This attack is an outrage against France, and against Europe as a whole. Today, France is on the frontline of the fight against terrorism. But she is not alone. This fight is the fight of all Europeans, and all the other peoples of the free world, too.

France is a great, strong and resilient nation. It will overcome this tragedy. Standing in solidarity, the European Union will assist her. We will ensure that the tragic, shameful act of terrorism against Paris fails in its purpose: to divide, to frighten, and to undermine liberty, equality and fraternity, the values that make France a great nation.

France has ensured that these values are at the very heart of the European Union. And the European Union will always be there for France, its government and its people.

We will demand that world leaders meeting in the G20 in Antalya respond to the threat of extremist terrorism. We will ensure that everything that can be done at European level to make France safe is being done. And we will make sure that Europe’s counter-terror strategy is fit for purpose to face the challenges of the months ahead.”

Greek Foreign Ministry

Foreign Ministry, in an announcement regarding the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris said:

“The Greek people as a whole are shocked at the cowardly, deadly terrorist attacks that took place a short while ago in Paris. These attacks are attacks not only against France, but also against the whole of the civilized world and democracy itself.

The Greek government expresses its deep condolences to the French government and the friendly French people. Greece is always at their side.”

[Sources: Reuters, CNN, the Telegraph, protothema.gr, The Guardian]