Paris reels from a series of terrorist attacks across the city
Issued on: Modified:
At least 127 people were killed in a wave of simultaneous attacks on Friday evening in Paris, in the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II.
Gunmen and bombers attacked busy restaurants, bars and a concert hall at at least six locations around Paris on Friday evening, killing scores of people in what President François Hollande described as an unprecedented terrorist attack.
The apparently coordinated gun and bomb attacks came as the country, a member of the US-led coalition waging air strikes against Islamic State group fighters in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert for terrorist attacks ahead of a global climate conference due to open later this month.
Hollande, who was attending an international football match with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier 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.
"This is a horror," the president said in a midnight television address to the nation before chairing an emergency cabinet meeting.
All emergency services were mobilised, police leave was cancelled and hospitals recalled staff to cope with the casualties.
A Reuters witness heard five explosions outside the Bataclan music hall, where up to 87 people were estimated to be dead and reports said armed attackers had shot concertgoers one by one before elite police units stormed the building and killed four attackers.
One official described "carnage" inside the building, saying the attackers had tossed explosives at the hostages, adding that he expected the toll of victims to rise.
Earlier, witnesses said an elite anti-terror unit had taken up positions outside the popular concert venue, which was attacked by two or three gunmen, who were reported to have shouted slogans condemning France's role in Syria.
"We know where these attacks come from," Hollande said, without naming any individual group. "There are indeed good reasons to be afraid."
Ordinary people targeted
France has been on edge since January when Islamist extremists attacked the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.
The Charlie Hebdo attackers claimed links to al Qaeda in Yemen, while the kosher market attacker claimed ties to the Islamic State group.
This time, the militants targeted young people enjoying a rock concert and ordinary city residents enjoying a Friday night out.
In addition to the deaths at the concert hall, police said 11 people were killed in the popular Carillon bar in the 10th arrondissement and other officials said at least three people died when bombs went off outside the Stade de France stadium.
Paris prosecutor François Molins added that another 18 people had been killed on the Boulevard de Charonne, one on Boulevard Voltaire and five on Rue de la Fontaine-au-Roi near République.
Emilio Macchio from Ravenna, Italy, was at the Carillon bar having a beer on the pavement when the shooting started. He said he didn't see any gunmen or victims, but hid behind a corner, then ran away.
"It sounded like fireworks," he said.
The Carillon and the Bataclan are popular venues in eastern Paris, near the trendy Oberkampf area which is known for its vibrant nightlife.
France has seen several smaller-scale attacks or attempts since January, including an incident on a high-speed train in August in which American travellers thwarted an attempted attack by a heavily armed man.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe