Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Paris Death Toll Tops 120 ; Explosions, Shootings in Several Locations across City; Hostages Taken; France Shuts Down Borders

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Paris Death Toll Tops 120 ; Explosions, Shootings in Several Locations across City; Hostages Taken; France Shuts Down Borders

Article excerpt

PARIS - A series of attacks targeting young concert-goers, soccer fans and Parisians enjoying a Friday night out at popular nightspots killed at least 120 people in the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II. President Francois Hollande condemned it as terrorism and pledged that France would stand firm against its foes. The worst carnage was at a concert hall hosting an American rock band, where scores of people were held hostage and attackers ended the standoff by detonating explosive belts. Police who stormed the building encountered a bloody scene of horror inside.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said as many as five attackers were killed, though it was not clear how many there were altogether and how many, if any, were still at large. Other officials said seven attackers had been killed and that police were searching for other possible accomplices.

Authorities said the death toll could exceed 120 for at least six sites, including the national stadium and a tight circle of popular nightspots.

Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders, although officials later said they were just re-imposing border checks that had been removed after Europe created its free-travel zone in the 1980s.

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 attack unfolded with two suicide bombings and an explosion outside the national stadium during a soccer match between the French and German national teams. Within minutes, according to Paris police chief Michel Cadot, another group of attackers sprayed cafes outside the concert hall with machine gunfire, then stormed inside and opened fire on the panicked audience. As police closed in, they detonated explosive belts, killing themselves.

Hollande, who had to be evacuated from the stadium when the bombs went off outside, later vowed that the nation would stand firm and united: "A determined France, a united France, a France that joins together and a France that will not allow itself to be staggered even if today, there is infinite emotion faced with this disaster, this tragedy, which is an abomination, because it is barbarism.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, although jihadists on Twitter immediately praised them and criticized France's military operations against Islamic State extremists.

In addition to the deaths at the concert hall, dozens were killed in an attack on a restaurant in the 10th arrondissement and several other establishments crowded on a Friday night, police said. Authorities said at least three people died when the bombs went off outside the soccer stadium.

All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named in the quickly moving investigation.

"This is a terrible ordeal that again assails us, Hollande said in a nationally televised address. "We know where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are.

President Barack Obama, speaking to reporters in Washington, decried an "attack on all humanity, calling the Paris violence an "outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians and vowing to do whatever it takes to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

Two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium north of Paris during a France-Germany exhibition soccer game. …

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