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Terror in Paris: The City of Lights experiences its deadliest massacre since World War II

November 19th, 2015

 

 

The Islamic State terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks that shook Paris on Friday, Nov. 13.

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CNN reported that three teams of armed assailants carried out attacks on various locations in the French capital, killing at least 129 and injuring more than 350 others. At least 99 people are reported to be in critical conditions, according to The New York Times.

 

The attacks commenced around 9:00 p.m.  Greenwich Mean Time, when an assailant opened fire on people at Le Carillon Bar before moving toward Le Petit Cambodge.

 

Between 12 and 14 people were killed, according to reports from the BBC and CNN. Around the same time, five people were killed at La Casa Nostra restaurant.

 

While these attacks were occurring, three explosions were heard at the Stade de France sports stadium, where over 80,000 people were watching a soccer game between France and Germany. Four people were killed outside the stadium, according to CNN.

 

“We thought it was a gas leak, but then we saw people on the floor that were not moving,” an eyewitness told NBC News. “There was a second explosion; we saw someone who lost an arm.”

 

The bloodiest of the attacks, however, took place at the Bataclan concert hall, where U.S. rock band Eagles of Death Metal were playing a sold-out show. Several gunmen opened fire, resulting in the deaths at least 80 people, according to the BBC; however, the French interior ministry is reporting that at least 112 people were killed there.

 

Over 100 people were taken hostage at the Bataclan. The gunmen reportedly told them, “It’s [French President] Hollande’s fault…he should not have intervened in Syria.”

 

A witness told BMFTV, a French news station, that “the show was about 30 minutes in when [they] heard shots and saw two persons with machine guns firing into the crowd,” CBS News reported.

 

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While the concert hall was under attack, French police entered the building “in a rescue mission,” CNN reported. Four gunmen were killed, three of whom were wearing explosive devices.

 

Throughout the attacks, Parisians utilized Twitter, using the hashtag “#porteouverte,” translating to “open door,” to offer shelter to anyone lost among the chaos and bloodshed.

 

Facebook also activated its “Safety Check” tool amid the attacks, which allowed users to alert their Facebook friends that they were safe, according to CNET.

 

Following the attack on the sports stadium, French President François Hollande, who was watching the soccer match at the time, declared a state of emergency in Paris and closed the country’s borders to prevent further attacks, CNN reported.

 

The New York Times reported that there were eight assailants involved, seven of whom blew themselves up by suicide bombings.

 

The police are currently searching for the eighth gunman, Salah Abdeslam of Brussels, according to the BBC. Abdeslam is one of three brothers involved in the attacks. One brother was involved in a suicide bombing near the Bataclan, which wounded one person.

 

The third brother was arrested while trying to return to Brussels. USA Today reports he was later released. Police have arrested six other suspects, and eight others are dead.

 

French and Belgian police are also looking for Abdelhamid Abaaoud, reported “mastermind” of the attacks. NBC News reports that an unnamed U.S. counterterrorism official confirmed Abaaoud led the attacks.

 

The Islamic State group called the attacks “the first of the storm,” claiming responsibility for the massacre on Saturday, Nov. 14. In an encrypted messaging account used by members of the terrorist group, France was declared the “capital of prostitution and obscenity,” The New York Times reported.

 

These messages were later distributed by the group’s members and supporters on Twitter.

 

The same account was used to release messages claiming responsibility for the crash of a Russian plane two weeks ago, which caused the deaths of over 200 people.

 

The group also released a statement reading, “Eight brothers, wrapped in explosive belts and armed with machine rifles, targeted sites that were accurately chosen in the heart of the capital of France, including the Stade de France during the match between the Crusader German and French teams, where the fool of France, François Hollande, was present,” The New York Times reported.

 

The statement continued, “Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the Islamic State.”

 

On Monday, Nov. 16, the Islamic State group released a video depicting militants celebrating the Paris attacks.

 

The video also warns that the terrorist group will plan a similar attack on Washington, D.C. if the U.S. joins France in its efforts against the Islamic State group.

 

A translation of the message, according to Reuters, reads, “We say to the states that take part in the crusader campaign that, by God, you will have a day, God Willing, like Frances’s and by God, as we struck France in the center of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its center in Washington,”

 

Threats were also made against European countries.

 

“I say to the European countries that we are coming—coming with booby traps and explosives, coming with explosive belts and [gun] silencers and you will be unable to stop us because today we are much stronger than before.”

 

On Saturday, Hollande condemned the attack, saying, “This act committed by the terrorist army [the Islamic State group], is against who we are, against a free country that speaks to the whole world.”

 

“It is an act of war prepared and planned outside, with outside involvement which this investigation will seek to establish,” Hollande continued. “It is an act of absolute barbarism. France will be ruthless in its response to Islamic State.”

 

American President Barack Obama offered his support following the massacre. In a press release from the White House, Obama said, “This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”

 

Obama continued, “This is a heartbreaking situation.  And obviously those of us here in the United States know what it’s like. We’ve gone through these kinds of episodes ourselves.  And whenever these kinds of attacks happened, we’ve always been able to count on the French people to stand with us.

 

“They have been an extraordinary counterterrorism partner, and we intend to be there with them in that same fashion.,” Obama said.

 

Pope Francis also commented on the attacks during a telephone call to the television station of the Italian Episcopal Conference, saying, “There is no justification for such things, neither religious nor human. This is not human.”

 

This is the worst terrorist attack to hit Europe since 2004, when commuter trains in Madrid were bombed, killing 191 people and injuring over 1,800, according to The New York Times.

 

It is also the deadliest attack to hit France since World War II.

 

As a result of the attacks, the band U2 cancelled its Saturday concert in Paris. Additionally, according to Time, the rock group Foo Fighters cancelled the remainder of its European tour, which was set to continue through the end of November. A post on the band’s Facebook page read, “In light of this senseless violence, the closing of borders and international mourning, we can’t continue right now.”

 

Although the Eiffel Tower’s lights were dimmed out of respect for the victims of Friday’s brutal attacks, multiple world monuments shone in blue, white and red, the colors of the French flag, in support of France during its time of tragedy.

 

These monuments include the Sydney Opera House, London’s Tower Bridge, Germany’s Brandenburg gate, Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl tower, New York’s One World Trade Center and Mexico City’s Angel de la Independencia.

 

Hollande declared three days of mourning on Saturday, and advised Parisians to remain in their homes if they were able to do so.

 

All museums, schools and libraries, as well as the Louvre and Disneyland Paris were closed following the attacks.

 

Additionally, the BBC reported that Hollande has put into effect a three-month state of emergency for all of France. He also suggested changes be made to the French constitution, primarily detailing stricter security measures, according to Reuters.

 

Editor’s Note: Information from CNN, the BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNET, NBC News, Reuters, CBS News, The Washington Post and USA Today was used in this report. All reported information used in this report is accurate as of Tuesday, Nov. 17.