The Islamic State (IS) jihadist group on Saturday claimed responsibility for a series of apparently coordinated attacks in and around Paris that killed at least 129 people on Friday.
In a statement posted online, the IS group (also known as ISIS, ISIL or by the Arabic acronym Daesh) said "eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles" conducted a "blessed attack on ... the Crusader France".
The statement added that the attacks were designed to show France that it will remain a top target, saying France was guilty of "striking Muslims in the caliphate with their aircraft". France is part of a US-led coalition conducting air strikes on IS jihadists in Syria and Iraq, where the group declared a caliphate last year after seizing areas of both countries.
The statement was made in Arabic and French and circulated by IS group supporters on Saturday. It was not immediately possible to confirm the authenticity of the statement, but it bore the group's logo and resembled previous statements issued by the jihadists.
Earlier on Saturday, French President François Hollande blamed the group for the worst violence on French soil since World War II, calling it “an act of war" committed by the IS group’s "terrorist army”.
In a televised address from the Elysée presidential palace, Hollande said the atrocities were “against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: A free country that means something to the whole planet."
France, he added, "will be triumph over the barbarism” of the IS militant group and “will act by all means anywhere, inside or outside the country".
Hollande declared three days of national mourning in the wake of the attacks.
Video appears to show French nationals
Hours before the IS group statement was released, the jihadist group distributed an undated video threatening attacks against French interests as long as France continued to bomb its fighters in Iraq and Syria.
The video, featuring the group’s foreign media insignia, Al-Hayat Media Centre, featured a militant described as “Abu Maryam the Frenchman”.
"As long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear travelling to the market," said the man.
The clip showed militants, who claimed to be French nationals, sitting cross-legged in a group wearing fatigues and holding weapons in what appeared to be a wooded area. The exact location of the filming was not known. The militants then burned their passports on camera.
Another militant, identified as “Abu Salman the Frenchman”, said: "Even poison is available, so poison the water and food of at least one of the enemies of Allah."
"Terrorise them and do not allow them to sleep due to fear and horror," he added.
The IS group has attracted thousands of foreign fighters, including nationals from Western European countries. French officials say more than a thousand nationals or residents have travelled to the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq.
Foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq
Friday’s attacks came as France was on high alert for terrorism ahead of the high-profile COP21 global climate conference due to open later this month.
At least 129 people were killed and 352 were wounded in nearly simultaneous attacks at six venues in and around the French capital including bars, restaurants, the Stade de France national stadium and the Bataclan concert hall in the heart of the city.
Hollande, who was attending an international football match with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday when several explosions went off outside the Stade de France, declared a state of emergency in the Paris region and announced the closure of France's borders.
In pictures: Paris attacks
People hug each other shortly after security forces stormed the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, ending the deadly siege.
Police officers secure the area near La Belle Equipe cafe on rue de Charonne in the 11th arrondissement, as attackers targeted multiple sites in and around the French capital.
Forensic teams at work inside the Comptoir Voltaire cafe, which was also attacked on November 13, 2015 in Paris.
Spectators wait on the pitch of the Stade de France stadium in the Seine-Saint-Denis suburb of Paris on Friday, November 13, 2015 after explosions rocked cafes and restaurants nearby. France was playing Germany in a friendly football match.
President Francois Hollande in the security control room at the Stade de France stadium as attacks rocked the French capital.
Date created : 2015-11-14