129 people were killed in a series of terror attacks across Paris Friday night, with Middle-East terror group ISIS claiming responsibility in the aftermath. Authorities described the carnage as the worst acts of violence to hit France since World War II.
The seemingly-coordinated shootings and explosions took place at at least six locations, including a café and a stadium where a soccer game was interrupted by an apparent suicide bombing, sending the crowd pouring onto the pitch. Eyewitnesses claim that the assailants carried Kalashnikov rifles.
Some 118 people were reported killed at the Bataclan theater, where hostages were taken and systematically executed before police stormed the building and killed at least three gunmen.
Californian rock band Eagles of Death Metal were performing a concert at the venue.
Reports of gunfire, explosions, and ongoing killings within the theater forced a police assault on the building at about 6:30 p.m. EST, according to Agence France-Presse.
Local news channel BFMTV reported that the police operation was concluded at about 7 p.m.
Julian Pearce, speaking to CNN, says he escaped the building earlier in the evening and described it as a "bloodbath."
There were further reports of gunfire at a food market near the center of town. 42 were reportedly killed there, at the Petit Cambodge restaurant in the 11th district, and in the stadium bombing.
A state of emergency was declared across the nation and 1,500 extra soldiers deployed to the capital in the aftermath of the attacks. Residents were told to stay indoors.
French President Francois Hollande said that his thoughts were with the victims and their families. He also closed the French borders, an unprecedented measure in modern Europe. On twitter, he said that France would defeat the terrorists: "Faced with dread, our nation knows to defend itself, knows to mobilize its forces and, once again, will defeat the terrorists."
U.S. President Obama said that the attacks were an outrageous act of terrorism and that the U.S. would do all it could to help France.
"This is not just an attack on Paris or the people of France, but on the values that we all share," Obama said. "France is our oldest ally. The French have stood at our shoulder time and time again in the struggle against extremism, and Paris itself stands for the values of human progress. … the values of liberté, egalité, fraternité."
Members of the band performing at the theater is reportedly safe, but they later indicated otherwise:
ABC News quotes Paris Deputy Mayor Patrick Klugman as saying it is too early to draw conclusions about who is responsible. The BBC reports that attacks took place at the Petit Cambodge restaurant in the 11th district, near the Bataclan arts centre, and near the Stade de France.
A BBC journalist at the Petit Cambodge restaurant says he can see 10 people on the road either dead or seriously injured. He says police have now arrived and sealed off the area. An eyewitness told Liberation he had heard more than 100 rounds being fired at a cafe in rue de Charonne.There are reports of up to six gunmen involved.
French media put the death toll at 60 as of 5:35 p.m. EST; it rose to 160 in some reports, but later was confirmed to be 129.
The New York Times reports that President Hollande was evacuated from the ongoing France-Germany match as explosions could be heard.
It was unclear whether there was a link in any of the violence to terrorism but French media reported that Kalashnikov rifles were involved in the shootings — a favored weapon of militants who have attacked targets in France — and that many rounds were fired. The shootings occurred near the former headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical newspaper where shootings in January traumatized France. Police sirens sounded throughout central Paris on Friday night.Video from inside the Stadium shows a scene of chaos:
An explosion is heard, loud enough to immediately disrupt the soccer match, in the following clip; it appears to have been a suicide bombing, though the reports are unclear.
The Washington Post reports that Parisians are pouring onto the streets despite a curfew. Reporter Ryan Weber:
Some of the main French Metro stations were closed down on Friday night, including the one at Gare du Nord, one of the city’s principal train stations… While Paris residents were urged to stay indoors, hundreds streamed down the Boulevard Magenta waving French flags, trying to get to the stadium where the shooting occurred, to show solidarity with the victims.
UPDATE: Nov 19. An earlier revision of this story placed the death toll as high as 160; it was confirmed at 129 in the days following the attack