Paris terror attacks: City of love in tears

Paris: At least 127 people were killed and over 200 injured as eight Islamic State terrorists, armed with automatics and wearing suicide vests, unleashed Mumbai 26/11-style mayhem in six crowded areas of Paris, shocking the world and drawing international condemnation.

Also read: Paris attacks sees 127 dead, one terrorist identified as French national

Forensic experts inspect the site of Cafe Bonne Biere on Rue du Faubourg du Temple
Forensic experts inspect the site of Cafe Bonne Biere on Rue du Faubourg du Temple

There was, however, no report of any Indian killed or wounded in the horrific attack. For the first time since World War II, curfew was imposed in Paris. French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and vowed to hit back. The killers targeted crowded theatres, cafes and tourist spots on Friday night.

Also read: No Indian casualty in Paris terror attacks so far, says embassy

Flowers placed next to blood stains at the Bataclan TheatreFlowers placed next to blood stains at the Bataclan Theatre

All entry and exit points in France, normally open, were now being controlled. “Faced with terror, France must be strong,” a shaken Hollande said, adding “we will be”. France “knows how to defend itself, knows how to mobilise its forces and, once again, will defeat the terrorists”.

Where two women console each other
Where two women console each other

Hollande, who called the terror attack “an act of war”, put the toll at 127 although initial reports had said more than 150 were killed. “This is for Syria!” shouted one of the attackers as he sprayed bullets. This week, France, a member of the US-led coalition combating the Islamic State, struck the group’s strategic targets in Syria.

A woman offers a floral tribute at Carillon restaurant. Pics/Getty Images/AFP
A woman offers a floral tribute at Carillon restaurant. Pics/Getty Images/AFP

The terrorists — all of whom were killed — also targeted the Stade de France stadium where Hollande was among the thousands viewing a France-Germany soccer match. He was quickly evacuated.

Also read: World leaders express outrage at Paris attacks

One attacker involved in the Bataclan theatre shooting and hostage-taking on Friday night has been identified as a French national through finger prints, French TV reported Saturday, citing a police source. The suspected attacker was identified through finger prints the investigators collected at the site.

The suspect is known to French intelligence service, said reports. Meanwhile, one Syrian and one Egyptian passport were found next to French national stadium Stade de France where at least two explosions went off. Verification is being done to cross-check the information on those two IDs.

At the stadium, people heard two bangs outside, in the first half of the match, and a smaller one in the second half. One witness said the killers didn't wear masks, looked young and were a determined lot — ready to kill and die.

The most horrific attack took place at the nearly 150-year-old Bataclan theatre where the terrorists burst in when rock band Eagles of the Death Metal was playing, ordered everyone to lie down and then began spraying bullets.

Members of the band made it out safely. A journalist at the venue said the gunmen reloaded their automatics at least thrice, took people hostages and, as security forces stormed the hall, blew themselves up, killing over 100 civilians.

The Islamic State singled out the football match and rock concert, calling it “perverse”, suggesting the targets were deliberately chosen. It blamed France for a “crusade” against Muslims, both in its military operations in Syria and Iraq and laws at home, and threatened more attacks in the future.

BBC quoted journalist Julien Pierce as saying: “Several armed men came in. Two or three men, not wearing masks, had what looked like Kalashnikovs and fired blindly on the crowd. It lasted between 10 to 15 minutes. It was extremely violent and there was panic.

The attackers had enough time to reload at least three times. They were very young... There were bodies everywhere.” Hollande visited the bloodied concert hall and vowed revenge. The terrorists, he announced, would be fought “without mercy”.

“It’s horror,” he said. He also cancelled his visit to the two-day G20 Summit at Antalya in Turkey from Saturday. Customers were singled out at a pizza restaurant, a Cambodian restaurant, a bar and a McDonalds outlet.

Ben Grant, who was with his wife at a bar that was attacked, said they heard gunshots and saw people dropping to the ground. “There are lots of dead people. It was pretty horrific... We put a table over our heads to protect us.” There was no report of any Indian casualty, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday.

ISIS calls Paris ‘capital of perverse’
London: An Islamic State statement on Saturday claimed responsibility for the Friday night Paris attacks, reports said. 

The group in a statement in Arabic and French called Paris the “capital of abominations and perversion” and said the attacks were carried out by eight “brothers” armed with guns and wearing suicide vests. It singled out the football match and rock concert, calling it “perverse”, suggesting the targets were deliberately chosen.

It blamed France for a “crusade: against Muslims, both in its military operations against IS in Syria and Iraq and laws at home, and threatened more attacks in the future.

The world reacts

Pope Francis
He called the attacks in Paris “a piece” of the “piecemeal Third World War”. “I am moved and I am saddened. I do not understand, these things are hard to understand,” he said in an interview.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
“My heart is filled with sadness due to what happened in Paris. This was not an attack on Paris but it was an attack on entire humanity and humanitarian forces.”

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif
He offered to bring the perpetrators to justice. “Pakistan stands firm behind the people and the government of France in this hour and extends its support to bring the perpetrators to justice.”|

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UN Secretary-General condemned "the despicable terrorist attacks carried out today in various locations in and around Paris," and demanded "the immediate release of the numerous individuals reportedly being held hostage in the Bataclan theatre."

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi
“Terror cannot defeat freedom and liberty. It will only strengthen our resolve to fight against this senseless violence.”

Through the years: Europe attacked

>> Nov 13, 2015: Gunmen stage multiple attacks in Paris, in spite of heightened security ahead of a UN climate changge conference, killing over 100 people.

>> Jan 7, 2015: Gunmen attack French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, killing 12 people, mostly journalists. The attack was linked to cartoons allegedly derogatory of Islam.

>> May 24, 2014: Armed with a Kalashnikov, an intruder guns down four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. The suspect was a former French fighter linked to the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

>> May 22, 2013: Two Al Qaeda-inspired extremists stab British soldier Lee Rigby to death in a London street.

>> March, 2012: Three gun attacks target French soldiers and Jewish civilians in the cities of Montauban and Toulouse in France. Seven people are killed, and five others injured, four seriously.

>> Nov 2, 2011: Offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris are firebombed after the magazine carried a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed on its cover. No one was injured.

>> July 22, 2011: Anti-Muslim extremist Anders Behring Breivik plants a bomb in Oslo and then attacks a youth camp on Norway’s Utoya island, killing 77 people - many of them teenagers.

>> July 7, 2005: Fifty-two commuters are killed when four Al Qaeda-inspired suicide bombers blow themselves up on three London subway trains and a bus.

>> Sept 1, 2004: Three-day school seige begins in Beslan in Russia that involved some 1,100 people being taken hostage and the death of 334 people.

>> March 11, 2004: Series of bomb blasts in Madrid’s commuter trains kill 191 people and injured over 1,800. It was the worst terrorist attack in Europe since the Lockerbie bombing in 1988.

>> Nov 2003: At least 27 people are killed and more than 400 injured in bombings at the British consulate and the HSBC bank headquarters in Istanbul.

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