Updated at 2:27pm ET.
Paris suffered at least six nearly simultaneous attacks on on Friday (Nov. 13), blamed by president François Hollande on the extremist group ISIL, which left at least 128 people dead and around 300 wounded.
The attacks during a normal, busy Friday night included a mass shooting at a concert hall, several shootings at bars and restaurants, and several bomb detonations, including more than one near France’s national stadium, where a soccer match between the French and German national teams was in progress.
Eight assailants died, most via suicide after reportedly detonating explosive belts they were wearing.
Hollande called the attacks an “act of war” carried out by ISIL, and pledged that France would respond with a “merciless” fight against terrorism. He declared a state of national emergency, which included increased border security, as well as three days of national mourning.
It was the worst attack on a European target since the Madrid bombingsin 2004, when 190 people were killed and more than 1,800 wounded, in four coordinated attacks on commuter trains.
It is also the second terrorist attack on Paris this year, after gunmen killed journalists at the magazine Charlie Hebdo, a policewoman, and several people during an attack on a supermarket. In August, a heavily armed gunman was stopped on a train on its way from Brussels to Paris just before he was able to open fire on passengers.
ISIL claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks in a statement released on social media in Arabic, French, and English. The statement, which has not yet been independently verified, called Paris “the capital of prostitution and obscenity,” and said that France’s actions in Syria were a factor in the decision to target the country.
Vague generalities and no specific background information about the attackers suggests that ISIL may have inspired the attacks, rather than directly orchestrating them.
The sites of the attacks
Stade de France
At about 9:20pm an explosion detonated near the French national stadium, where a soccer match between the French and German national teams was in progress. A second blast was heard 10 minutes later, and a third 20 minutes after that. Hollande, who was at the match, was quickly evacuated. No one apart from the bombers appear to have died in the blasts.
At least one attacker had a ticket to the game, and was reportedlystopped by security from entering the stadium, prompting him to detonate his explosives. According to the Wall Street Journal, a second bomber blew himself up outside the stadium, shortly thereafter, and a third attacker detonated explosives at a nearby McDonald’s.
Le Petit Cambodge and Le Carrillon
At around the same time, several gunmen opened fire at Le Petit Cambodge, a Cambodian restaurant on rue Bichat, in the the trendy Canal Saint Martin neighborhood. Eleven people were killed, the AP reported, citing a police officials. Patrons of a nearby bar, Le Carrillon, were also injured in the shooting.
Just before 10pm, in the worst single attack, around 87 people died when gunmen entered a large concert hall in the 11th arrondissement, where an American band, Eagles of Death Metal, were playing. The venue has capacity of 1,500 and was sold out, the BBC reported. Eyewitnesses described (link in French) the attackers as unmasked and young, and said they made concertgoers lie on the floor before opening fire on them.
French police stormed the building around midnight. At least one report from someone who escaped said the gunmen spoke to hostages, telling them that the attack was a response to France’s military interventions in Syria. France joined the US in airstrikes against ISIL in Syria in September, and announced this month it was sending an aircraft carrier to fight ISIL.
La Belle Equipe
Five people were killed during an explosion on a street called Rue de la Fontaine au Roi. A suicide bomber also detonated a blast on Boulevarde Voltaire. The New York Times reported that only one person—the bomber himself—was killed.
Public buildings, schools, museums, and markets are closed today, and the police have temporarily banned demonstrations and other large gatherings. The Eiffel Tower has been closed indefinitely, according to the operator of the popular tourist attraction. There is increased security at all French borders.
Attention is now turning to how such deadly, coordinated attacks could take place in a city that had so recently been struck by terrorists. Germany has offered the help of its security services, while other world leaders have sent messages of solidarity.
Discussion will intensify about how the attacks will affect Europe’s policy of open borders. These have been challenged in recent months as the flow of migrants, and especially refugees from war-torn countries like Syria, has dramatically increased.
Who are the attackers?
Belgium’s justice minister announced today (Nov. 14) that there were several police raids in the St. Jans Molebnbeek neighborhood in Brussels on Saturday, and several people have been arrested in connection to last night’s attacks.
Paris public prosecutor François Molins said two of the attackers who were killed in last night’s violence have been identified. Fingerprints identified one of the attackers as a 30-year-old Frenchman who was known to be radicalized.
He was born in the Parisian suburb Courcouronne and had been sentenced eight times between 2008 and 2010 for minor violations, according to Molins. A passport for one of the State de France assailants showed that he was born in Syria.