Paris terrorist attacks: 120 dead

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Scores die in siege at Bataclan concert hall and at scenes of apparently coordinated series of gun and bomb attacks in French capital. France declares state of emergency after wave of coordinated attacks leaves more than 120 dead.

At least 120 people have died in Paris in a wave of coordinated gun and suicide bomb attacks, prompting the French president, François Hollande, to declare a state of emergency and tighten controls on the country’s borders.

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Wounded people are evacuated outside the Bataclan concert hall. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA

In the deadliest terrorist attack on Europe since the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, six venues across Paris were targeted: gunmen opened fire at a rock concert and on patrons in restaurants; and a series of bombs were detonated near the Stade de France, where the national side was playing Germany in an international friendly football match.

At least eight attackers are dead, seven of them in suicide bombings, but witnesses to one shooting said police told them at least one attacker was still at large.

In the bloodiest incident, 87 people were reported killed inside the Bataclan concert venue in the 11th arrondissement, when gunmen opened fire on the crowd during a concert by US rock group Eagles of Death Metal.

Many people in the crowd were reportedly held hostage before armed police stormed the venue. Some of those inside the Bataclan theatre told reporters three of the terrorists detonated suicide belts as the French security forces closed in.

Police reported six attacks occurred across Paris over a little more than two hours on Friday night. Incidents occurred at:

  • Bataclan theatre – 87 people killed
  • Stade de France – unknown number killed;
  • Boulevard de Charonne – 18 reported killed;
  • Boulevard Voltaire – one killed;
  • Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi – five killed;
  • Rue Alibert – 14 killed.
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Police officers secure the area around the Bataclan theatre Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier reports suggested up to 157 people had been killed, before the Bataclan death toll was significantly revised down.

In addition to those killed, across the city, a further 200 people were injured, at least 80 of them seriously.

Paris prosecutor François Molins said at least eight attackers had been killed across the city, seven of them in suicide bombings.

However, one witness told the Guardian that officers had warned him at least one of the terrorists had still not been apprehended.

Psychotherapist Mark Colclough, a British and Danish national, was standing near a cafe on the Rue de La Fointaine au Roi in the 11th arrondissement when a gunman opened fire on patrons inside.

“He [the attacker] was standing in a shooting position. He had his right leg forward and he was standing with his left leg back. He was holding up to his left shoulder a long automatic machinegun – I saw it had a magazine beneath it.”

Colclough said the man was left-handed and shooting in short bursts. “It was fully intentional, professional bursts of three or four shots.”

“Everything he was wearing was tight, either boots or shoes and the trousers were tight, the jumper he was wearing was tight, no zippers or collars. Everything was toned black.

“If you think of what a combat soldier looks like, that is it – just without the webbing. Just a man in military uniform, black jumper, black trousers, black shoes or boots and a machinegun.”

Colclough said police told him the killer he saw had not been caught.

“We were taken to the police station to give a witness statement. The gunman we saw has not been apprehended. They [the police] confirmed that on the way out. We asked if it was safe to walk home and they said definitely not.”

Paris authorities warned people to remain indoors where possible and closed the Métro system.

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French Red Cross rescue workers evacuate an injured person near the Bataclan concert hall. Photograph: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images

The attacks come 10 months after 20 people died during attacks by Islamist gunmen on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, located close to the Bataclan theatre, and a kosher supermarket in Paris.

Hollande, who was at the football match at the Stade de France at the time of the bomb blasts, cancelled plans to attend this weekend’s G20 summit in Turkey and convened a cabinet meeting. In a TV address to the nation, he declared a state of emergency, and closed the country’s borders.

“This is a terrible ordeal that again assails us,” he said. “We know where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are.”

He said the attackers wanted “to scare us and fill us with dread”, but warned France’s retribution would be swift and unflinching.

“We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless. Because when terrorists are capable of committing such atrocities they must be certain that they are facing a determined France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow.”

 

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