TERROR ATTACKS: France declares state of emergency
â€¢ Shuts borders, vows â€˜mercilessâ€™ response
â€¢ Declares three days of mourning
â€¢ ISIS claims responsibility, says itâ€™s first of the
An angry President Francois Hollande of France
yesterday declared a state of emergency and
announced he was closing the countryâ€™s borders in
the aftermath of Friday nightâ€™s violence in Paris that
left 129 people dead.
Metro lines shut down and streets emptied on the
mild fall evening as fear spread through the city,
still aching from the horrors of the Charlie Hebdo
attack just 10 months ago.
The violence is said to be worst visited on France
since the Second World War when German soldiers
invaded the country.
Hollande promised a â€˜mercilessâ€™ response to the
attacks claimed by Islamic State.
He called it an act of war against France.
â€œFaced with war, the country must take appropriate
action,â€ Hollande said after an emergency meeting
of security chiefs.
The President also announced three days of
â€œFrance will be merciless towards these barbarians
from Daesh,â€ he said, using an Arab acronym for
In the worst attack, a Paris city hall official said four
gunmen systematically killed at least 87 people at a
rock concert by an American band at the Bataclan
concert hall before anti-terrorist commandos
launched an assault.
Some 40 more people were killed in five other
attacks in the Paris region, the official said,
including a double suicide bombing outside the
Stade de France stadium, where Hollande and
German foreign minister were watching a soccer
The assaults came as France, a founder member of
the U.S.-led coalition waging air strikes against
Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert
for terrorist attacks, raising questions about how
the attacks were able to occur.
It was the worst such attack in Europe since the
Madrid train bombings of 2004, in which 191 died.
Hollande said the attacks were organised from
abroad by Islamic State, with internal help.
Investigators were focusing on to what extent the
militants were from France or from abroad.
Sources close to the inquiry said one of the dead
gunmen was French with ties to Islamist militants.
The holder of a Syrian passport found near the
body of one gunman passed though the Greek
island of Leros in October, a Greek minister said.
A Greek police source said the passportâ€™s owner
was a man who had arrived in Leros with 69
refugees and had his fingerprints taken. Police
declined to give his name.
The Paris attacks are sure to become a factor in the
debate raging in Europe about how to handle the
migrantsâ€™ crisis fueled by the conflict that has
emerged from the uprising in Syria.
In a sign of potential divisions ahead, Poland said
that the attacks meant it could not now take its
share of migrants under a European Union plan.
Many of the migrants currently flooding into
Europe are refugees from Syria.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan urged world
leaders gathered for a summit in Turkey yesterday
to prioritise the fight against terrorism, saying the
Paris attacks showed the time for words was now
Hollande pulled out of the meetings but told
Erdogan by telephone that his foreign and finance
ministers would attend.
During a visit to Vienna, U.S. Secretary of State
John Kerry said â€œwe are witnessing a kind of
medieval and modern fascism at the same timeâ€.
In its claim of responsibility, Islamic State said the
attacks were a response to Franceâ€™s military
It also distributed an undated video in which a
militant said France would not live peacefully as
long as it took part in U.S.-led bombing raids
against the Islamic State.
â€œAs long as you keep bombing you will not live in
peace. You will even fear traveling to the market,â€
said a bearded Arabic-speaking militant, flanked by
A French government source told Reuters there
were 139 dead, 67 in critical condition and 352
Six attackers blew themselves up and one was shot
There may have been an eighth attacker, but this
was not confirmed.
The attacks, in which automatic weapons and
explosives belts were used, lasted 40 minutes.
â€œThe terrorists, the murderers, raked several cafe
terraces with machine-gun fire before entering (the
â€œThere were many victims in terrible, atrocious
conditions in several places,â€ police prefect Michel
Cadot told reporters.
Hollande declared a national state of emergency,
the first since World War Two. Border controls
were temporarily reimposed to stop perpetrators
Local sports events in Paris were suspended,
stores closed, the rock band U2 canceled a concert,
and schools, universities and municipal buildings
were ordered to stay shut.
Sylvestre, a young man who was at the Stade de
France when bombs went off there, said he was
saved by his cell phone, which he was holding to
his ear when debris hit it.
â€œThis is the cell phone that took the hit, itâ€™s what
saved me,â€ he said.
â€œOtherwise my head would have been blown to
bits,â€ he said, showing the phone with its screen
Emergency services were mobilised, police leave
was canceled, 1,500 army reinforcements were
drafted into the Paris region and hospitals recalled
staff to cope with casualties.
Radio stations warned Parisians to stay at home
and urged residents to give shelter to anyone
caught out in the street.
France has been on high alert since Islamist
gunmen attacked the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo
and a kosher supermarket in January, killing 18
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