French president says attacks 'an act of war' by Islamic State
France woke up on Saturday morning to grief and a nationwide state of emergency with 1,500 soldiers deployed across central Paris.
In his second televised address, French president Francois Hollande said the attacks were “committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State group, a jihadist army, against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world.” He also added that France “will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group.”
“What we are defending is our country, but more than that, it is our values.”
There is now a more accurate picture of the extent of the bloodshed following yesterday’s chaos. According to the BBC, the death toll currently stands at 127 people, with hospital officials placing the number of injured at 300 people.
French media report today there were six shootings and three explosions at five locations, with up to eight individuals committing the atrocities.
The attacks began just after 9 p.m. Paris time at Rue Bichat and rue Alibert, in the 10th arrondissement, when gunmen with automatic rifles open fired outside a cafe and restaurant. Shootings also occurred at other restaurants on Rue de la Fontaine au Roi and Rue de Charonne – both located in the 11th arrondissement.
There were a total of three explosions just outside Stade de France, where a 80,000 people were watching a Euro 2016 warm-up match between Germany and France. Suicide terrorists detonated their explosive devices at a stadium gate and bar, killing fans.
The match was attended by the French president, who left the stadium immediately after the first explosions. Officials did not stop the match, as a measure to prevent panic, but gathered tens of thousands of spectators on the field until they could be safely evacuated.
The brunt of the death toll occurred at the Bataclan theatre in the 11th arrondissement. Four men with AK-47 rifles entered the concert venue where American band Eagles of Death Metal had been playing for about an hour to a sold-out crowd of 1,500 people. For 20 minutes, they fired indiscriminately on the concert attendees and threw grenades into the seats.
When police began to gather outside the theatre, the terrorists gathered about 100 hostages. At 1 a.m., police stormed the theatre, killing the terrorists and freeing the survivors.
The theatre massacre death toll was originally over 100 people, but it has since been revised to 87. All members of the band were able to escape without injury.
Public buildings, schools, universities, museums, and libraries are closed as a precaution. Hollande has declared three days of national mourning.
This was the most devastating terrorist attack in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings.