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France in State of Emergency as over 120 die in Paris attacks.

The President of France, Francois Hollande, called a state of emergency in France as a series of attacks in Paris led to an estimated death toll of over 120 people, and many more wounded. The attacks took place between 9pm and 1am. 

Update 11:06: Islamic State now claims responsibility for the attacks. It claims to have studied the targets and sent eight ‘brothers’ into the attacks. The attacks were designed to remind France that they are still a target. This follows an anncouncment by the President of France stating that ISIS were behind the attacks.

Update 10:50: reports started coming in that a Gatwick terminal has been evacuated. Police say this is due to a suspicious package. Some witnesses claim that a person was found with a gun in their bag; police will not confirm as yet.

It seems that the attacks took place in seven locations, including 3 bomb blasts near the Stade de France, and 6 shootings, including a major hostage situation at the Bataclan Concert Hall. The attacks have been halted and the sites secured by the police and military. However the death toll and wounded are rising.

Three explosions are said to have taken place near the Stade de France, with three dead, where a football match between France and Germany was taking place. Film footage of the match includes a huge bomb blast being heard. The President of France, who was attending the match, left unhurt. The stadium was evacuated after the match.

A further attack took place at the Bataclan Concert Hall where the band Eagles of Death Metal were playing. Six un-masked young men apparently entered the hall and started shooting. It is suspected that over 100 hostages were being held there. However a police operation successfully secured the area. The police described the Bataclan as a ‘scene of horror’, where the attackers were said to be killing people one by one.

Dramatic video footage shows people running out of the Bataclan Concert Hall with bodies lying on the floor around them. It also shows people hanging out of high windows, trying to avoid the terrorists, perhaps unsure as to whether to risk the jump. The video contains some disturbing images: http://www.lemonde.fr/attaques-a-paris/article/2015/11/14/daniel-psenny-journaliste-au-monde-j-ai-senti-comme-un-petard-qui-explosait-dans-mon-bras_4809665_4809495.html.

Further attacks took place at Le Carillon, Le Petit Cambodge, La Belle Equipe, and La Casa Nostra; all of which are busy restaurants or café’s in Paris. One BBC journalist saw at least ten bodies lying outside the Le Petit Cambodge restaurant.

Different numbers have been appearing regarding the death toll which shows the amount of confusion currently in France and the media. However the minimum figure currently is about 120. However some have claimed over 160 have died. Prosecutors have put the provisional toll at 128, with 99 critically injured.

The President of France gave an announcement that France was in a state of emergency, and an emergency cabinet was called. He closed the French border to those leaving the country, and drafted in 1500 soldiers to secure Paris and maintain order.

After the Bataclan was secured the President turned up and spoke about the carnage. He said that ‘our fight will be merciless’ against the terrorists. He also described the acts as ‘an abomination and a barbaric act’.

The police and the army secured all the locations; in the process eight of the attackers died (six by suicide belts). They have encouraged Parisians to stay in their homes, at the same time as most institutions have been closed down. They are now conducting searches in the area.

Many countries have increased their security level including the U.S and Singapore. U.S airlines have stopped flights to Paris. Belgium has also tightened its border force. The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has called a COBRA meeting (national security meeting).

At the same time many have been leaving flowers at French embassies around the world.

There is very little information on who has coordinated these attacks. The deputy mayor of Paris has said that it is too early to say whether the attacks are coordinated, but that this looks to be the case. Since then the president of France has stated that ISIS are behind the attacks.

Witnesses claimed to have heard one shooter shout ‘Allahu Akhbar’, which may link the attacks to Islamist terrorist organisations. Another witness heard an attacker shout ‘It’s for Syria’. This may link the attackers to ISIS. However any ideas at this stage are mere speculation.

France has been noted as particularly vulnerable to ISIS. France has the largest number of people fighting for ISIS; many of these have returned to France. Also France has experienced numerous attacks this year including 12 dead at a shooting of journalists at the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Facebook has set up a function for finding people you may know in Paris at this time called the safe function. The Foreign office has also issued a number for assistance: 0044 207 008 1500.

About Daniel Masters

d_w_masters@hotmail.co.uk'

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