127 killed in terrorist attacks of concert hall, stadium, cafes
French President François Hollande, speaking to the nation, said attacks on Friday that killed 127 people were “an act of war” by terrorists of the Islamic State.
He declared three days of national mourning and put the nation’s security at its highest level.
Hollande said these were the worst attacks in France since World War II and vowed to strike back.
He said the attacks on a stadium, concert hall and Paris café diners were “committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State group, a jihadist army, against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: A free country that means something to the whole planet.”
He said France “will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group.” France “will act by all means anywhere, inside or outside the country.”
France is already bombing IS targets in Syria and Iraq as part of the US-led coalition, and has troops fighting extremists in Africa.
Suicide bombers targeted a stadium, concert hall and Friday night café crowds in attacks that killed at least 120.
The special meeting in the Elysée Palace on Saturday morning comes as police hunt for potential accomplices to eight attackers and suicide bombers who were killed in Friday night’s violence.
Hollande declared a state of emergency — the first such move in a decade — and ordered 1,500 additional troops deployed.
The attacks raise concerns about international events that France is hosting, such as a UNESCO forum in Paris on Monday with world leaders, and major climate talks in Paris in two weeks.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris in a statement in Arabic and French released online Saturday and circulated by supporters of the group.
It was not immediately possible to confirm the authenticity of the statement, but it bore the group’s logo and resembled previous statements issued by the group.
Some 1,500 extra soldiers have been mobilized to guard French facilities and schools and universities are closed.
Many French schools are normally open on Saturdays, but the French government ordered them shuttered as part of emergency security measures.
Soldiers were deployed at key sites around Paris, including Parliament buildings and religious sites.
Disneyland Paris was closed to the public in a highly unusual move because of the string of attacks.
The theme park east of Paris, one of Europe’s leading tourist attractions, said in a statement that it decided not to open Saturday “in light of the recent tragic events in France and in support of our community and the victims of these horrendous attacks.”
Some 14 million people visited Disneyland Paris last year.
A community leader from Paris’ working-class suburbs says he fears a “tsunami of hatred” may await Muslims and residents of poor neighborhoods following the deadly terror attacks.
Nadir Kahia of the Banlieue Plus community association says its members are shocked and feel a sense of solidarity “but we know … some Muslims and poor neighborhoods” will be subjected to hate speech.
Kahia also called for unity of the French people and efforts to calm tensions in a text message to The Associated Press.
Those who survived an attack on the Bataclan concert venue were bused to a special crisis center for psychological support.
Some walked in dazed, their shoulders draped with emergency blankets. After meeting with counselors, some survivors were put in taxis to head home.
They had been at the Bataclan concert hall for a show of American band Eagles of Death Metal.
All members of the California-based band that was to perform were declared safe and accounted for. The rock band U2 also postponed its Saturday night concert in Paris.
Friends and relatives are using social media to search for loved ones feared to have been at the sites of the Paris attacks.
Facebook also offered its “Safety Check” feature to allow users who listed to mark themselves as safe if they listed Paris as their location.
Parisians used the hashtag #portesouvertes, or “open doors,” to offer a place to stay for people who were evacuated from the sites of the attacks. In the US, some used the hashtag #strandedinUS to offer shelter for people who were unable to travel back to France.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the attackers who killed more than 120 people in Paris overnight “hate freedom.”
Merkel expressed grief for those who died, saying “they wanted to live the life of free people in a city that celebrates life.”
She said the victims encountered “murderers who hate precisely this life of freedom.”
Merkel said Germany stands ready to help France in whichever way it can because the attack “was aimed not just at Paris, it targeted and it hits all of us.”
‘Our turn to stand by France’
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III expressed solidarity with and support for France, after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
“In our time of need, France and her people stood shoulder to shoulder with the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon ‘Haiyan,’” Aquino said in a statement.
“We stand with France now, in the firm belief that the light must never dim in Paris,” he said.
Aquino said the Filipino people “stand in solidarity with the people of Paris and all of France, in this time of deepest sorrow and the gravest outrage against the perpetrators of these crimes.”
He said the terrorist attacks demand “a united voice from the world in condemnation and grief.”
Aquino said the Philippine National Police is on alert after the “atrocities” in France but that there was “no credible threat” to the country at this time.
The Department of Foreign Affairs will issue updates on the situation and will be ready to offer assistance to Filipinos visiting and working in France.
In February this year, French President François Hollande visited the Philippines to launch the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change with Aquino.
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