TERROR ATTACKS: France declares state of emergency

By 10:47 Sun, 15 Nov 2015 Comments



• Shuts borders, vows ‘merciless’ response

• Declares three days of mourning

• ISIS claims responsibility, says it’s first of the

storm

An angry President Francois Hollande of France

yesterday declared a state of emergency and

announced he was closing the country’s borders in

the aftermath of Friday night’s violence in Paris that

left 129 people dead.

Metro lines shut down and streets emptied on the

mild fall evening as fear spread through the city,

still aching from the horrors of the Charlie Hebdo

attack just 10 months ago.

The violence is said to be worst visited on France

since the Second World War when German soldiers

invaded the country.

Hollande promised a ‘merciless’ response to the

attacks claimed by Islamic State.

He called it an act of war against France.

“Faced with war, the country must take appropriate

action,” Hollande said after an emergency meeting

of security chiefs.

The President also announced three days of

national mourning.

“France will be merciless towards these barbarians

from Daesh,” he said, using an Arab acronym for

Islamic State.

In the worst attack, a Paris city hall official said four

gunmen systematically killed at least 87 people at a

rock concert by an American band at the Bataclan

concert hall before anti-terrorist commandos

launched an assault.

Some 40 more people were killed in five other

attacks in the Paris region, the official said,

including a double suicide bombing outside the

Stade de France stadium, where Hollande and

German foreign minister were watching a soccer

game.

The assaults came as France, a founder member of

the U.S.-led coalition waging air strikes against

Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert

for terrorist attacks, raising questions about how

the attacks were able to occur.

It was the worst such attack in Europe since the

Madrid train bombings of 2004, in which 191 died.

Hollande said the attacks were organised from

abroad by Islamic State, with internal help.

Investigators were focusing on to what extent the

militants were from France or from abroad.

Sources close to the inquiry said one of the dead

gunmen was French with ties to Islamist militants.

The holder of a Syrian passport found near the

body of one gunman passed though the Greek

island of Leros in October, a Greek minister said.

A Greek police source said the passport’s owner

was a man who had arrived in Leros with 69

refugees and had his fingerprints taken. Police

declined to give his name.

The Paris attacks are sure to become a factor in the

debate raging in Europe about how to handle the

migrants’ crisis fueled by the conflict that has

emerged from the uprising in Syria.

In a sign of potential divisions ahead, Poland said

that the attacks meant it could not now take its

share of migrants under a European Union plan.

Many of the migrants currently flooding into

Europe are refugees from Syria.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan urged world

leaders gathered for a summit in Turkey yesterday

to prioritise the fight against terrorism, saying the

Paris attacks showed the time for words was now

over.

Hollande pulled out of the meetings but told

Erdogan by telephone that his foreign and finance

ministers would attend.

During a visit to Vienna, U.S. Secretary of State

John Kerry said “we are witnessing a kind of

medieval and modern fascism at the same time”.

In its claim of responsibility, Islamic State said the

attacks were a response to France’s military

campaign.

It also distributed an undated video in which a

militant said France would not live peacefully as

long as it took part in U.S.-led bombing raids

against the Islamic State.

“As long as you keep bombing you will not live in

peace. You will even fear traveling to the market,”

said a bearded Arabic-speaking militant, flanked by

other fighters.

A French government source told Reuters there

were 139 dead, 67 in critical condition and 352

wounded.

Six attackers blew themselves up and one was shot

by police.

There may have been an eighth attacker, but this

was not confirmed.

The attacks, in which automatic weapons and

explosives belts were used, lasted 40 minutes.

“The terrorists, the murderers, raked several cafe

terraces with machine-gun fire before entering (the

concert hall).

“There were many victims in terrible, atrocious

conditions in several places,” police prefect Michel

Cadot told reporters.

Hollande declared a national state of emergency,

the first since World War Two. Border controls

were temporarily reimposed to stop perpetrators

escaping.

Local sports events in Paris were suspended,

stores closed, the rock band U2 canceled a concert,

and schools, universities and municipal buildings

were ordered to stay shut.

Sylvestre, a young man who was at the Stade de

France when bombs went off there, said he was

saved by his cell phone, which he was holding to

his ear when debris hit it.

“This is the cell phone that took the hit, it’s what

saved me,” he said.

“Otherwise my head would have been blown to

bits,” he said, showing the phone with its screen

smashed.

Emergency services were mobilised, police leave

was canceled, 1,500 army reinforcements were

drafted into the Paris region and hospitals recalled

staff to cope with casualties.

Radio stations warned Parisians to stay at home

and urged residents to give shelter to anyone

caught out in the street.

France has been on high alert since Islamist

gunmen attacked the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo

and a kosher supermarket in January, killing 18

people.


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