Three teams of gunmen and suicide bombers were involved in the coordinated attacks across Paris late Friday that killed at least 129 people, French prosecutors said Saturday.
President François Hollande declared a state of emergency late on Friday, ordering police and troops into the streets, and announced three days of official mourning as a stunned nation sought to comprehend the simultaneous assaults on restaurants, a concert hall and the national soccer stadium on a busy Friday evening.
As a cross-border investigation gathered pace, prosecutors said the slaughter appeared to involve a multinational team with links to the Middle East, Belgium and possibly Germany, as well as French nationals. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed the attack, saying it was in retaliation for French military action in Syria and Iraq.
Ominously, Greek officials said one and perhaps two of the assailants had passed through Greece from Turkey alongside masses of desperate Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their homeland.
The worst carnage was unleashed as three gunmen systematically killed at least 89 people at a rock concert by an American band at the Bataclan concert hall before detonating explosive belts as anti-terrorist commandos launched an assault, officials said.
Some 40 more people were killed in five other attacks in the Paris region, including a double suicide bombing outside the Stade de France stadium, where Hollande and the German foreign minister were watching a friendly football match. By Saturday night, 99 people were still in critical condition.
The bloodshed came as France, a member of the US-led coalition waging air strikes against the IS group, was already on high alert for terrorist attacks, raising questions about how such a complex conspiracy could go undetected.
It was the worst such attack in Europe since the Madrid train bombings of 2004, in which Islamists killed 191 people.
One attacker identified
French media identified one of seven attackers as a 29-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin from the Paris suburbs.
The suspect, who helped kill scores of people at the Bataclan, had a criminal record and was known to the authorities for possibly having been radicalised as far back as 2010. He travelled to Syria for a few months between 2013 and 2014.
Six relatives of the suspect have since been detained.
Attacks were coordinated
Paris Prosecutor François Molins said on Saturday that the three attacks were coordinated. The seven assailants involved wore identical suicide vests fitted with batteries and a detonator, and were carrying a TATP (triacetone triperoxide) charge. They also carried semi-automatic rifles.
Car, weapons found in Montreuil
A French judicial official said Sunday that several AK47 rifles had been found in a Seat car with suspected links to Friday's attacks that was found by police in Montreuil, a suburb 6 kilometres (nearly 4 miles) east of the French capital.
French PM vows to ‘destroy’ enemy
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls vowed to “destroy” those behind the attacks speaking late on Saturday, saying in an interview with French TV station TF1 that “we are at war, and because we are at war we are taking exceptional measures”.
“We will strike this enemy to destroy him. In France and in Europe, we’ll chase the authors of this act, and also in Syria and Iraq. We will win this war,” he said.
Victims’ names start to emerge
Twenty-four hours after the attacks broke out, many of the victims had been identified and names started to emerge. An American, a Briton, two Mexicans and three Chileans were among the victims.
Many people continue to search for their loved ones using the Twitter hashtag #rechercheparis.
Arrests in Belgium
Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office said authorities made three arrests on Saturday linked to the attacks.
Spokesman Jean-Pascal Thoreau said the arrests came after a rental vehicle with Belgian license plates was seen close to the Bataclan theatre on Friday night. Police organised several raids in the St. Jans Molenbeek neighbourhood of Brussels on Saturday.
Syrian passport found
A Syrian passport was found near one of the attacker’s bodies. Prosecutor Molins said the individual was not known to French intelligence services.
Along with the FBI and other agencies, US Justice Department attorneys are working with French authorities to obtain further information that may be relevant to the Paris attacks, a Justice Department official said on Saturday.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)
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 : 2015-11-15