ISIS claims responsibility for Paris attacks
Islamic State jihadists (ISIS) today claimed a series of coordinated attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen in Paris that killed at least 128 people at a concert hall, restaurants and the national sports stadium.
French President Francois Hollande also blamed the Islamic extremist group and called the coordinated assault yesterday night at six different sites an “act of war”.
At least eight militants, all wearing suicide vests, brought unprecedented violence to the streets of the French capital in the worst attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid train bombings.
In the bloodiest part of a night of violence, four men armed with AK47s and shouting “Allahu akbar” stormed into a rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall in eastern Paris, gunning down at least 82 people and taking dozens hostage.
“They didn’t stop firing. There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. Everyone was trying to flee,” said Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter who was at the concert by US rock band Eagles of Death Metal.
The gunmen were heard raging at Hollande and his decision in September to begin air strikes on Isis jihadists in Syria.
“I clearly heard them say ‘It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria’,” Janaszak added.
French officials have spoken frequently of their fears that hundreds of French citizens thought to be fighting with Isis in Syria and Iraq would return to France and launch attacks.
France has taken part in US-led air strikes on Isis targets in Iraq for over a year and in September began bombing the jihadists in Syria, claiming to have hit a training camp and an oil installation.
In a statement issued online on Saturday morning, Isis said that “eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles” conducted a “blessed attack on… Crusader France.”
The death toll of 128 does not include the eight attackers, the first suicide bombers to strike in France.
The assault also left at least 250 wounded, 100 of them seriously.
Hollande said the multiple attacks across Paris were “an act of war… committed by a terrorist army, Daesh, against France”, using another term for Isis.
France has been on high alert since January when jihadist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris in attacks targeting satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket.
Another disaster was narrowly averted in August when a gunman was overpowered on a packed high-speed train in northern France.
No arrests had been made by early this morning and the country was in a state of emergency, decreed by Hollande yesterday night.
Police were screening hours of CCTV footage of the attack sites and were attempting to identify the body parts of the attackers.
As a precaution, sports events were cancelled in Paris,, while public schools and many museums were closed.
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