140 killed in multiple Paris attacks; France seals borders, declares emergency
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140 killed in multiple Paris attacks; France seals borders, declares emergency

President Hollande urges his people to stay calm, promises to vanquish terror; police storm concert hall where gunmen were killing hostages

Medical staff stand by victims in a Paris restaurant, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (AP/Thibault Camus)
Medical staff stand by victims in a Paris restaurant, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (AP/Thibault Camus)

PARIS — Some 140 people were killed in a series of unprecedented attacks around Paris on Friday, police said, according to French news agencies. French President Francois Hollande closed the country’s borders and declared a state of emergency.

People died in shootings and explosions at multiple sites, some 100 of them in a popular concert hall where patrons were taken hostage and killed, police and medical officials said.

Reports from escaping hostages said gunmen were killing hostages in the theater one by one. They described carnage, with bodies strewn everywhere, and the attackers throwing explosives at the hostages. “Two to three people not wearing face masks went into the concert hall” and opened fire. “They reloaded two or three times,” said an eyewitness quoted on France 24 TV.

Police later stormed the venue and killed two gunmen.

The series of attacks gripped the city in fear and recalled the horrors of the Charlie Hebdo carnage just 10 months ago.

A police official said 11 people were killed in a Paris restaurant in the 10th arrondissement, and other police officials said at least twice that number died elsewhere.

France's President Hollande declares a state of emergency amid multiple attacks in Paris, November 13, 2015 (France 24 screenshot)
France’s President Hollande declares a state of emergency amid multiple attacks in Paris, November 13, 2015 (France 24 screenshot)

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the series of attacks.

Hollande, in a televised address, said the nation would stand firm and united against the attackers.

“It’s a horror,” he said, referring to “terrorist attacks on an unprecedented scale.”

Also late Friday, two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium north of Paris during a France-Germany friendly football match. There were reports of two suicide bombers.

A police official confirmed one explosion in a bar near the stadium.

An Associated Press reporter in the stadium Friday night heard two explosions loud enough to penetrate the sounds of cheering fans. Sirens were immediately heard, and a helicopter was circling overhead. Hollande, who was in the stadium, was evacuated to an emergency meeting.

The attack comes as France has heightened security measures ahead of a major global climate conference that starts in two weeks, out of fear of violent protests and potential terrorist attacks.

Emilio Macchio, from Ravenna, Italy, was at the Carillon bar near the restaurant that was targeted, having a beer on the sidewalk, when the shooting started. He said he didn’t see any gunmen or victims, but hid behind a corner, then ran away.

“It sounded like fireworks,” he said.

France has been on edge since deadly attacks by Islamic extremists in January on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery that left 20 dead, including the three attackers.

One of at least two restaurants targeted Friday, Le Carillon, is in the same general neighborhood as the Charlie Hebdo offices, as is the Bataclan, among the best-known venues in eastern Paris, near the trendy Oberkampf area known for a vibrant nightlife. The California-based band Eagles of Death Metal was scheduled to play there Friday night.

The country remains on edge after January attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, and a kosher grocery. The Charlie Hebdo attackers claimed links to extremists in Yemen, while the kosher market attacker claimed ties to the Islamic State group.

The country has seen several smaller-scale attacks or attempts since, including an incident on a high-speed train in August in which American travelers thwarted an attempted attack by a heavily armed man.

France’s military is bombing Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq and fighting extremists in Africa, and extremist groups have frequently threatened France in the past.

French authorities are particularly concerned about the threat from hundreds of French Islamic radicals who have travelled to Syria and returned home with skills to stage violence.

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