MidEast

Islamists Suspected in Massive Terror Assault as France Declares State of Emergency

In a massive coordinated assault reminiscent of previous Islamist attacks in London, Madrid and Mumbai, more than 120 people were killed in multiple locations Paris this evening, an assault that Presdient Francois Holland called the worst attack in France since World War II.

The attacks took place at at least six locations in the city, the worst of which was at the Bataclan Theater in the 10th Arrondisement during a concert. There, as many as 100 were were killed as terrorists threw explosives on the stage and then held dozens more hostage until police stormed the location, according to AFP.

The AP added:

Two Paris police officials say security forces have ended their assault on a concert hall filled with hostages, killing at least two attackers… One official described “carnage” inside the building, saying the attackers had tossed explosives at the hostages. Both officials said they expected the toll of victims to rise.

In restaurants not far from the theater, gunmen opened fire killing several dozen, including at least 11 in a single restaurant. In another restaurant, witnesses told France 24 television that they saw at least 10 dead or injured people lying in the street. The restaurants were located in the 10th and 11th Arrondisements. The France 24 reporter added that at least one gunman is still believed to be at large.

Earlier at least one bomb was detonated outside the Stade de France, where President Hollande had attended the soccer match between France and Germany. At least three people were killed in that attack, and Hollande was evacuated. This evening Hollande announced that he was sealing the French border and declaring a state of emergency.

World leaders expressed shock and outrage at the attack, with U.S. President Obama calling it “an attack on all humanity,” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying she was “deeply shaken” by the news.

The attacks come 10 months after Paris endured the terrorist attacks on the editors of Charlie Hebdo and at the Hyper Cacher deli in January. Those attacks were carried out by Islamists claiming to be members of the Al-Qaeda branch in Yemen. In recent weeks, France has increased its offensive posture in the Middle East, including deploying the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Although no organization has claimed responsibility at this time, the AP cited several experts who claimed that Islamists were most likely behind the attack. Twitter accounts connected with jihadists expressed praise and celebration of the attack, according to AP. Islamist terrorists have been responsible for a series of major coordinated assaults in key cities around the world since the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. AFP has reported that the attackers tonight shouted “God is Great” in Arabic as they opened fire.

New York City police announced that it was increasing its deployment of police across the city “out of an abundance of caution,” and its international bureau’s Paris agents were assisting local police.

The wife of a member of the Eagles of Death Metal band, from southern California, which was performing at the concert, told the Washington Post the band’s members had escaped unharmed. According to YNet, the band appeared in Israel last summer in open defiance of a call from Pink Floyd member Roger Waters to boycott, saying they had told Waters “F— you.”

The Bataclan Theater is, according to the website Le Point, Jewish-owned and had been the target of repeated threats in recent years.

Photo: AFP