Paris: Gunmen and bombers attacked restaurants, a concert hall and a sports stadium at locations across Paris on Friday, killing at least 140 people in what a shaken President Francois Hollandecalled an unprecedented terrorist attack.
A Paris city hall official said gunmen systematically slaughtered nearly 100 people attending a rock concert at the Bataclan music hall. Anti-terrorist commandos eventually launched an assault on the building, killed the gunmen and rescued dozens of shocked survivors.
Some 40 other people were killed in up to five other attacks in the Paris region, the city hall official said, including an apparent double suicide bombing outside the national stadium where Hollande and the German Foreign Minister were watching a friendly soccer international.
Paris Public Prosecutor Francois Molins said five assailants had been ‘neutralised’.
“This is a horror,” the visibly shaken President Francois Hollande said in a midnight television address to the nation before chairing an emergency cabinet meeting.
France has been on high alert ever since Islamist gunmen attacked the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Kosher supermarket in Paris in January, killing 18 people.
* One of the targeted restaurants, Le Carillon, is in the same general neighborhood as the Charlie Hebdo offices, as is the Bataclan, among the best-known venues in eastern Paris, near the trendy Oberkampf area known for a vibrant nightlife.
* Among the first physicians to respond to the wounded Friday was Patrick Pelloux, an emergency room doctor and former Charlie Hebdo writer who was among the first to enter the offices Jan. 7 to find his friends and colleagues dead.
Air France: maintains all flights after Paris attacks, expects delays
French carrier Air France said on Saturday that it will maintain all flights to and from France after attacks in Paris prompted the government to decree a state of emergency and reinforce border controls.
“Following the events in Paris on Nov.13, Air France confirms that all its upcoming flights to/from France is maintained,” the company said in a statement.
It said delays are to be expected due to the reinforcement of border controls by authorities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his deep condolences to Hollande and all the people of France following the “horrible terrorist attacks in Paris”, the Kremlin said in a statement.
“Russia strongly condemns this inhumane killing and is ready to provide any and all assistance to investigate these terrorist crimes.”
* The Paris metro railway was closed and schools, universities and municipal buildings were ordered to stay shut on Saturday. However some rail and air services are expected to run.
* All 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.
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 while the concert was under way armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and started “blindly shooting at the crowd”.
President Pranab Mukherjee today condemned the deadly terrorist attacks in the French capital Paris and expressed anguish over the incident in which at least 120 people were killed.
“Strongly condemn terrorist attacks in Paris, India stands firmly by France, my heart goes out its people,” the President tweeted.
Strongly condemn terrorist attacks in Paris, India stands firmly by France, my heart goes out its people #PresidentMukherjee
— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) November 14, 2015
American Airlines delays Paris flights; United operates as planned
American Airlines Group , the world’s biggest carrier by passenger traffic, said on Friday it was delaying flights to Paris in response to the explosions and shooting attacks there, even though French airports remained open.
“Currently Charles de Gaulle International Airport is open, however, we are holding our remaining departures this evening to Paris until we have additional information,” American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed said.
United Continental Holdings said its three scheduled flights would still depart for Paris on Friday evening from hubs in Chicago, Newark and Washington, D.C. “We’re operating our schedule as planned,” spokesman Charles Hobart said.
A Delta spokesman had no comment.
People in Paris took to social media to find and offer refuge as the city was gripped by chaos following a string of attacks.
The Twitter hashtag #porteouverte, which means “open door” in English, was being used to offer shelter as authorities urged people to evacuate the streets. The hashtag trended globally, with more than 400,000 Tweets using it, in the few hours since its creation.
Facebook sets up safety check for Paris friends
Facebook launched a check-in feature to let people know that friends in Paris were safe after a series of bombings and shootings in the French capital killed at least 120 people.
The “Paris Terror Attacks” safety check let people signal whether they were out of harm’s way, then notified all those they know at the leading social network.
“Quickly find and connect with friends in the area,” a message at the Facebook Safety Check page read. “Mark them safe if you know they’re OK.”
French President Francois Hollande cancelled his participation to this weekend’s G20 meeting in Turkey following the deadly attacks in Paris, government sources told Reuters on Saturday.
A diplomatic source said Finance Minister Michel Sapin and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who will first go to Vienna for the Syria talks, will attend the G20 meeting instead.
Qatar says Paris attacks against all human, moral values
Attacks in Paris that killed more than 100 people violate all human and moral values, Qatar’s foreign minister said in a statement.
“The state of Qatar, through its foreign minister, strongly condemns these heinous attacks that have struck the French capital causing so many victims,” Khaled al-Attiyah said in a statement sent to Reuters by the embassy in Paris.
“These acts, which target stability and security in France are against all human and moral values,” he added.
Embassies in Paris: +31-1-xxxxxxxx
Mexico: 53702770 | Finland: 44181920 | Greece: 47237228 | Poland: 43173405 | Portugal: 47273529
Philippines: 44145700 | Belarus: 44146979 | Afghanistan: 45250529 | Costa Rica: 45789696 | Iceland: 44173285
Pakistan: 45622332 | Sri Lanka: 55733131 | Germany: 53834500 | Russia: 45040550 | Ireland: 44176700
US military says it is “reasonably certain” strike killed “Jihadi John”
The US military is “reasonably certain” a US drone strike killed the Islamic State militant known as “Jihadi John,” a British citizen who appeared in videos of militants beheading Western journalists and aid workers, a spokesman said on Friday.
The militant, Mohammed Emwazi, was thought to have been killed in the Syrian town of Raqqa by a US drone firing a Hellfire missile, but the military still needed final verification, said Army Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State.
“We are reasonably certain that we killed Jihadi John,” Warren told a Pentagon briefing, adding it “will take some time to confirm.”
Obama condemns Paris attacks, says attack on ‘all of humanity’
US President Barack Obama has condemned the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris saying that the attack is not just on France but on all of humanity and the universal values and also pledged to work with France to bring those responsible to justice.
“Once again we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians. This is an attack not just on Paris; it’s an attack not just on the people of France. But this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share,” Obama told reporters.
Hollande, who was attending an international soccer match with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier when several explosions took place outside the national stadium, declared a state of emergency in the Paris region and announced the closure of France’s borders to stop perpetrators escaping.
“This is a horror,” the visibly shaken president said in a midnight television address to the nation before chairing an emergency cabinet meeting.
All emergency services were mobilised, police leave was cancelled and hospitals recalled staff to cope with the casualties.