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More than 150 killed in Paris deadly attacks

14 November, 2015

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PARIS: In the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II, a wave of coordinated attacks left more than 120 dead in scenes of carnage in Paris Friday.

The assailants struck at least six very different venues, ranging from the national sports stadium to a pizzeria. Police said at least 120 people were killed in total in the city which is still reeling from jihadist attacks in January.

“Terrorist attacks of an unprecedented level are underway across the Paris region,” Hollande said in an emotional televised message. “It's a horror."

President Francois declared a state of emergency across the entire country and cancelled his trip to the G20 summit due to take place this weekend in Turkey, in wake of what he called an unprecedented terrorist attack. Prosecutors said at least five attackers had been “neutralised” in total.

According to a statement, issued from the presidency, 1,500 extra soldiers deployed to Paris after attacks.

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.

A full house of 1,500 people were packed into the popular venue in eastern Paris for a concert by the US band Eagles of Death Metal.

About an hour after the band took to the stage, the whole concert hall was turned into “a bloodbath” according to a French radio reporter at the scene.

Black-clad gunmen wielding AK-47s stormed into the hall and fired calmly and methodically at hundreds of screaming concert-goers, killing at least 100.

Fellow radio presenter Pierre Janaszak heard the first shots and thought it was part of the act.

“But we quickly understood. They were just firing into the crowd.”

He said he heard an attacker say, “It's the fault of Hollande, it's the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria.”

Four assailants were killed after police stormed in three by activating their suicide vests and a fourth shot dead — but not before they had mown down some 100 people.

Three loud explosions were heard outside France's national stadium during the first half of a friendly international football match between France and Germany.

At least five people died outside the glittering venue which staged the 1998 World Cup final with several others seriously hurt. One of the explosions was near a McDonald's restaurant on the fringes of the stadium. At least one of the two explosions in rue Jules-Rimet was a suicide bomb attack.

French President Francois Hollande, who was watching the game, was immediately evacuated. The match was eventually completed and the stadium emptied in a relatively calm atmosphere.

A little further east on Rue de Charonne 18 people were killed, with one witness saying a Japanese restaurant was the main target. “There was blood everywhere,” the witness said. Another man said he heard shots ring out, in sharp bursts, for two or three minutes. “I saw several bloody bodies on the ground. I don't know if they were dead,” he said.

Pierre Montfort lives close to a Cambodian restaurant on Paris' Rue Bichat, a little further north, was the scene of another attack. “We heard the sound of guns, 30-second bursts. It was endless. We thought it was fireworks,” he said. Florence said she arrived by scooter a minute or so after. “It was surreal, everyone was on the ground. No one was moving inside the Petit Cambodge restaurant and everyone was on the ground in bar Carillon,” she said.

“It was very calm — people didn't understand what was going on. A young girl was being carried in the arms of a young man. She seemed to be dead.” A few hundred metres from the Bataclan, the terrace of the Casa Nostra pizzeria was targeted.

Five people were killed by attackers wielding automatic rifles, according to witness Mathieu, 35. “There were at least five dead around me, others in the road, there was blood everywhere. I was very lucky."

A judicial source said one of the attackers exploded his suicide vest on the Boulevard Voltaire, near the Bataclan. It is not yet known if there were any injuries from the explosion. The most bloody of the attacks was at the Bataclan, where police said around 100 people were killed.

“We heard so many gunshots and the terrorists were very calm, very determined,” Julien Pearce, a reporter for France's Europe 1 radio, told CNN while the hostage crisis was still underway.

“They reloaded three or four times ... and they didn't shout anything. They didn't say anything." He said friends were still inside as he spoke.

“They are hiding in some kind of room in the dark and they text(ed) me, and they are very afraid, of course, and they are waiting for the police to intervene, but it's been over two hours now and this is terrible."

Hundreds of police had gathered outside and armed officers eventually stormed the venue at around 2335 GMT, accompanied by a series of explosions.

At the Stade de France, spectators flooded the pitch as news of the attacks spread before organisers started evacuations.

Stunned onlookers had begun to emerge from nearby bars, while many others continued to eat their meals in restaurants, apparently unaware of the carnage that had taken place only a few metres away.

“We heard gunfire, 30 seconds of fire, it was interminable, we thought it was fireworks,” said Pierre Montfort, who lives near rue Bichat, where one of the attacks took place.

President Francois Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that a crisis cell had been set up.

“The president of the Republic, the prime minister, the interior minister are in a inter-ministerial crisis cell,” the government said in a statement.

Counter-terrorism prosecutors said they had opened a preliminary investigation. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, called for residents to stay at home.

The president office stated that Hollande has cancelled his visit to the G20 summit in Turkey following a wave of attacks in Paris. He will be represented by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Finance Minister Michel Sapin
Condolences pour in US President Barack Obama led a chorus of global condemnation, saying it was “an attack on all of humanity”.

“Whenever these kinds of attacks happen, we've always been able to count on the French people to stand with us. They have been an extraordinary counterterrorism partner. And we intend to be there with them in that same fashion,” Obama said in a brief speech from the White House.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said they were “deeply shocked” by the attacks.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also said he was “shocked” after at least 18 people were reported killed in multiple attacks in Paris, including one near the Stade de France sports stadium.

“I am shocked by events in Paris tonight,” the Prime Minister wrote on Twitter. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people. We will do whatever we can to help."

The Kremlin also condemned the “hateful “string of attacks and the “inhuman murders” of at least 39 people in Paris, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Russian news agencies reported.

President Vladimir Putin offered condolences and support to his counterpart Francois Hollande and the French people, TASS news agency said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed solidarity with France. "I am shocked and saddened that so many people have been killed and injured in violent attacks in Paris,” Trudeau said, offering his condolences.

“Canada stands with France at this dark time and offers all possible assistance." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country stands “shoulder to shoulder” with France in the “war against terrorism.” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks and called for any hostages to be immediately released. “The secretary-general condemns the despicable terrorist attacks carried out today in various locations in and around Paris,” according to a statement from his spokesman. “The secretary-general extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured. He stands with the government and people of France."

Facebook launched a check-in feature to let people know that friends in Paris were safe after a series of bombings and shootings. 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."

The feature also allowed people to check which friends listed as being in Paris had not yet checked in as safe.

France has been on high alert since the attacks in January against Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket that left 17 dead. Several other attacks have been foiled through the year.

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