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Paris attacks: Hollande blames Islamic State for ‘act of war’

The near-simultaneous attacks in Paris that killed nearly 130 people were an “act of war” organised by the Islamic State (IS) militant group, says France’s President Francois Hollande.

He said the attacks, carried out by eight gunmen and suicide bombers, were “organised and planned from outside”.

The targets included bars, restaurants, a concert and a high-profile football match. IS claimed the attacks.

Mr Hollande has declared three days of national mourning.

He has raised the security threat level to its highest point and imposed a nationwide state of emergency.

This is the deadliest peacetime attack in France and the worst in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings. At least 180 people were wounded, 80 of whom are in a critical condition.

Live: Follow the latest developments here

Images of aftermath of shootings

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Eyewitness accounts from the scene

The night of violence unfolded soon after 21:00 (20:00 GMT) as people were enjoying a Friday night out in the French capital.

A gunman opened fire on Le Carillon bar in the rue Alibert, not far from the Place de la Republique, before heading across the road to Le Petit Cambodge (Little Cambodia), killing at least 12 people.

“We heard the sound of guns, 30-second bursts. It was endless. We thought it was fireworks,” Pierre Montfort, a resident living close to Le Petit Cambodge, said.

A few streets away, diners sitting on the terrace of La Casa Nostra pizzeria in rue de la Fontaine au Roi, were also fired on, with the loss of at least five lives.

At around the same time, on the northern outskirts of Paris, 80,000 people who had gathered to watch France play Germany at the Stade de France heard three explosions outside the stadium about half an hour after kick-off.

President Hollande was among the spectators and was whisked to safety after the first explosion. It later emerged three suicide bombers blew themselves up at fast food outlets and a brasserie near the stadium.

Attack sites:

La Belle Equipe, 92 rue de Charonne, 11th district – at least 19 dead in gun attacks

Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant at rue Alibert, 10th district – at least 12 dead in gun attacks

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La Casa Nostra restaurant, 92 rue de la Fontaine au Roi, 11th district – at least 5 dead in gun attacks

Stade de France, St Denis, just north of Paris – explosions heard outside venue, three attackers dead

Bataclan concert venue, 50 boulevard Voltaire, 11th district – stormed by several gunmen, at least 80 dead

_86684875_bataclan_and_petit_cambodge_624_v4

What we know

#Paris: Power, horror, and lies


The attack on the 1,500-seat Bataclan concert hall was the deadliest of Friday night’s attacks. Gunmen opened fire on people watching US rock group Eagles of Death Metal. The event had been sold out.

“At first we thought it was part of the show but we quickly understood,” Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter, told AFP news agency.

“They didn’t stop firing. There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. We heard screaming. Everyone was trying to flee.”

He said the gunmen took 20 hostages, and he heard one of them tell their captives: “It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria”.

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Within an hour, security forces had stormed the concert hall and all four attackers there were dead. Three had blown themselves up and a fourth was shot dead by police.

Islamic State released a statement on Saturday saying “eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles” had carried out the attacks on “carefully chosen” targets, and were a response to France’s involvement in the air strikes on IS militants in Syria and Iraq.

Shortly before, President Hollande said France had been “attacked in a cowardly shameful and violent way”.

“So France will be pitiless in its response to the Islamic State militants,” he said, vowing to “use all means within the law.. on every battleground here and abroad together with our allies”.

As Paris reels from the events of Friday night, many municipal buildings as well as Disneyland Paris have been closed and sports events have been cancelled.

Police believe all of the gunmen are dead – seven killed themselves with explosives vests and one was shot dead by the security forces – but it is unclear if any accomplices are still on the run.

US President Barack Obama spoke of “an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians”.

UK PM David Cameron said he was shocked and pledged to do “whatever we can to help”.

The Vatican called it “an attack on peace for all humanity” and said “a decisive, supportive response” was needed “on the part of all of us as we counter the spread of homicidal hatred in all its forms”.

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_86682722_86682381 _86683153_258b7b98-1552-4c28-bf27-661e25000a9bSource:https://www.bbc.com

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