14 Nov 2015

Paris attacks: at least 129 killed in ‘act of war’

French President Francois Hollande calls the Paris attacks “an act of war” organised from abroad by the so-called Islamic State – with help from inside France.

The attacks on Friday night at a stadium, concert hall and cafes and restaurants in northern and eastern Paris were “an act of war committed by Daesh that was prepared, organised and planned from outside (of France)” with help from inside France – said Hollande, using the Arabic acronym Daesh for Islamic State.

Islamic State released an undated video on Saturday urging Muslims to attack France, in retaliation for French participation in US-led air strikes against Isis.

Deadly attacks

It is thought at least 87 people were killed by four gunmen in an assault on the Bataclan concert hall, where the Californian rock group Eagles of Death Metal was performing.

When special forces assaulted the building the terrorists detonated explosive suicide belts.

There were five other attacks around Paris that killed at least 40 other people, including an apparent double suicide bombing outside the Stade de France national stadium.

At least 300 people were injured in these attacks, around 99 critically.

France has since declared a state of emergency, closed its borders and put the army on the streets. The country will observe three days of mourning.

It was the worst such attack in Europe since the Madrid train bombings of 2004, in which 191 died.

Official death toll

Hollande said the death toll stood at 129 but that figure may rise. Officials said eight assailants had died, seven of whom had blown themselves up with explosive belts at various locations, while one had been shot dead by police. It was not clear if all the attackers were accounted for.

“The terrorists, the murderers raked several cafe terraces with machine-gun fire before entering (the concert hall). There were many victims in terrible, atrocious conditions in several places,” police prefect Michel Cadot told reporters.

Some witnesses in the hall said they heard the gunmen shout Islamic chants and slogans condemning France’s role in Syria.

Prime Minister David Cameron warned that we “must be prepared for British casualties” from the Paris attacks, and that the UK faces the same threat as France. The British threat level would remain at “severe” and not be raised to “critical”.

The US State Department has also said that Americans were injured in the attack.