The Hindu

Terror strikes France again; 129 killed in coordinate­d attacks

French President says Islamic State is behind the six attacks in Paris

- DHANANJAY KHADILKAR

PARIS: In a deadly terror strike that reminded the world of the attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008, suspected Islamic State gunmen launched a coordinate­d assault on Paris late on Friday night, leaving 129 dead and 352 injured. The worst terror attack in France’s history eclipsed the shooting inside the Charlie Hebdo newspaper office in January, which killed 12 and injured 11.

French President Francois Hollande announced that he held the IS responsibl­e for the attack and France considered it “an act of war”. He announced a state of emergency, the first in France since 2005, and the deployment of 1,500 soldiers.

The attack was carried out on six locations, one being the French national stadium Stade de France where France and Germany football teams were playing a friendly before an 80,000-strong crowd. Mr. Hollande, who was among the spectators, was evacuated immediatel­y following security protocol. As many as 89 people were killed in the attack at the Bataclan Theatre during a concert by the band Eagles of Death Metal. The gunmen entered the 1,500seat venue and began shooting without warning. The police said the assailants were killed. A Syrian passport was found on one of the attackers.

The band members are safe, but have not been located. A spokespers­on for the band said, “We are still currently trying to determine the safety and the whereabout­s of all our band and crew. Our thoughts are with all of the people involved in this tragic situation.” A relative of one of the band members confirmed that all of them were safe.

The sold-out concert hall in the trendy 11th arrondisem­ent in eastern Paris bore the brunt of the attack, which began around an hour after the performanc­e began. The terrorists, armed with AK-47s and suicide bomb vests, took the fans hostage and began shooting them clinically before the police raided the place. As soon as the raid began, three of the four terrorists blew themselves up. The police killed the fourth.

In the same arrondisem­ent, 19 more people were killed as gunmen fired inside a café. A few hundred metres from the Bataclan, five people were killed on the terrace of a pizzeria. The 11th arrondisem­ent, with its restaurant­s, cafes and bars, is a popular district among revellers. The night’s mayhem began around 10 p.m. when a gunman fired at a bar and a restaurant in the 10th arrondisem­ent in northern Paris.

Six kilometres north, explosions went off outside the Stade de France. Three people were killed in this attack. France won the match 2-0.

At the Gatwick airport in Britain, a 41-year-old Frenchman was arrested with a weapon that appeared to be a firearm.

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