At Least 128 Dead as Terrorist Attacks Rock Paris, France

     (CN) – President Barack Obama called it “heartbreaking” as news broke Friday evening that a series of fatal terrorist attacks had beseiged Paris, France.
     At least 128 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in multiple shootings and explosions in Paris, international news sources reported. France declared a national state of emergency and has closed its borders.
     There may have been up to seven separate terrorist attacks throughout Paris, although the exact number, among other details, remains unclear. Also unclear as the dust settles is who is responsible for the carnage.
     The bulk of the slaughter is said to have occurred at a concert venue called the Bataclan, where the U.S. metal band Eagles of Death Metal had been playing. French police reportedly freed dozens of hostages from the venue, but at least 100 people were killed there. Four police officers attempting to end the hours-long siege were among those killed, as were at least two of the attackers, Paris police said.
     Another three people were killed in what has been described as a suicide blast at the Stade de France, in the region St. Denis, where a match between France and Germany reportedly continued to the finish. Fans reported confusion about the source of the three explosions they heard during the second half of the game.
     In the 11th arrondissement, near the Bataclan concert hall, a BBC journalist reported seeing 10 people lying on the road, either dead or seriously injured, after attacks at the restaurant Le Petit Cambodge and the nearby bar Le Carillon.
     An eyewitness told Liberation he had heard more than 100 rounds being fired at a cafe in rue de Charonne, the BBC says.
     There are reports of up to six gunmen involved, although the true number is still unknown. French authorities said accomplices “may be on the loose.”
     The Paris prosecutor said five gunmen “have been neutralized.”
     Statements follow from U.S. President Obama, France President Francois Hollande and Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council.
     
     “Good evening, everybody,” Obama said at 5:45 EST. “I just want to make a few brief comments about the attacks across Paris tonight. Once again, we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians. 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.
     “We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need to respond. France is our oldest ally. The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again. And we want to be very clear that we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism.
     “Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress. Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong. The American people draw strength from the French people’s commitment to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté and égalité and fraternité are not only values that the French people care so deeply about, but they are values that we share. And those values are going to endure far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.
     “We’re going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice, and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people.
     “We don’t yet know all the details of what has happened. We have been in contact with French officials to communicate our deepest condolences to the families of those who have been killed, to offer our prayers and thoughts to those who have been wounded. We have offered our full support to them. The situation is still unfolding. I’ve chosen not to call President Hollande at this time, because my expectation is that he’s very busy at the moment. I actually, by coincidence, was talking to him earlier today in preparation for the G20 meeting. But I am confident that I’ll be in direct communications with him in the next few days, and we’ll be coordinating in any ways that they think are helpful in the investigation of what’s happened.
     “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.
     “I’m sure that in the days ahead we’ll learn more about exactly what happened, and my teams will make sure that we are in communication with the press to provide you accurate information. I don’t want to speculate at this point in terms of who was responsible for this. It appears that there may still be live activity and dangers that are taking place as we speak. And so until we know from French officials that the situation is under control, and we have for more information about it, I don’t want to speculate.
     “Thank you very much.”
     
     French President Francois Hollande, who had been at the stadium where there were explosions, issued the following statement at midnight local time:
     “My dear compatriots,
     “As I speak, terrorist attacks of unprecedented proportions are underway in the Paris area. There are dozens killed, there are many injured. It is a horror.
     “We have, on my decision, mobilised all forces possible to neutralise the terrorists and make all concerned areas safe. I have also asked for military reinforcements. They are currently in the Paris area, to ensure that no new attack can take place. I have also called a cabinet meeting that will be held in a few minutes.
     “Two decisions will be taken: a state of emergency will be declared, which means that some places will be closed, traffic may be banned , and there will also be searches which may be decided throughout Ile de France (greater Paris). The state of emergency will be proclaimed throughout the territory (of France).
     “The second decision I have made is to close the borders. We must ensure that no one enters to commit any crimes and that those who have committed the crimes that we have unfortunately seen can also be arrested if they should leave the territory.
     “This is a terrible ordeal which once again assails us. We know where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are.
     “In these difficult moments, we must – and I’m thinking of the many victims, their families and the injured – show compassion and solidarity. But we must also show unity and calm.
     “Faced with terror, France must be strong, it must be great and the state authorities must be firm. We will be.
     “We must also call on everyone to be responsible.
     “What the terrorists want is to scare us and fill us with dread. There is indeed reason to be afraid. There is dread, but in the face of this dread, there is a nation that knows how to defend itself, that knows how to mobilise its forces and, once again, will defeat the terrorists.
     “French citizens, we have not completed the operations. There are still some that are extremely difficult. It’s at this moment that the security forces are staging an assault, especially in a place in Paris.
     “I ask you to keep all your trust in what we can do with the security forces to protect our nation from terrorist acts.
     “Long live the Republic and long live France.”
     
     In a letter to Hollande, European Council President Donald Tusk called the attack “an outrage against France, and against Europe as a whole.”
     “We will ensure that the tragic, shameful act of terrorism against Paris fails in its purpose: to divide, to frighten, and to undermine liberty, equality and fraternity, the values that make France a great nation,” Tusk wrote.
     
     Editor’s note: This article has been updated periodically with new death tolls and to indicate the conclusion of the hostage crisis at the Bataclan.
     Statements from President Hollande and Tusk were also added.

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