PARIS — More than 100 people were killed in Paris as explosions and shootings rolled through the city Friday night. A coordinated series of attacks hit at least six locations, including a concert hall where police said at least 100 hostages were murdered.
French officials told CNN the death toll stands at at least 153 people, with 112 of those coming at The Bataclan concert hall.
It’s the deadliest violence in France in decades.
A police official said 11 more people were killed in a restaurant in the 10th arrondissement.
Amid reports that hostages were being executed in the concert hall, police launched an assault on the building. Four attackers were killed — three of whom were wearing explosive belts — at the Bataclan concert venue during the police raid, Paris police prefect, Michel Cadot, said Saturday in an interview with France Info radio.
The French prosecutor’s office told The Associated Press that there were a total of eight attackers dead, seven of them in suicide bombings.
“It was a bloodbath,” said radio reporter Julien Pearce, who was inside The Bataclan attending a concert when the attack broke out there.
Witnesses told BFM and AFP the assailants yelled “Allahu Akbar” as they fired automatic weapons into a crowd of people.
Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, some terrorism experts said the Islamic State group is likely responsible.
The Paris police prefecture told residents to remain home and avoid going out unless absolutely necessary.
French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency, calling out the military and closing the country’s borders.
Hollande, in a televised address to his nation, said the nation would stand firm and united against the attackers.
“It’s a horror,” he said.
Hollande had been attending a soccer match between the French and German national soccer teams at the Stade de France stadium when the explosions began nearby.
Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert and senior adviser to the president of RAND Corp., said ISIS is clearly the name at the top of everyone’s list.” He said this was because the tactic used — “multiple attackers in coordinated attacks at multiple locations” — echoed recommendations published in extremist group’s online magazine,
James Woolsey, a former director of the CIA in 1993-195 and now chancellor at the Institute of World Politics, also told the BBC he suspected the Islamic State because the coordinated nature of the attacks required government-style planning.
U.S. Homeland Security Department officials monitoring the attacks in Paris said there is no known, credible threat against the United States.
President Obama called the attacks “outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.”
Obama later spoke by phone with Hollande to offer condolences and assistance in the investigation, the White House said.
Hundreds of people spilled onto the field of the Stade de France stadium after explosions were heard nearby during a friendly match between the French and German national soccer teams.
A stadium announcer made an announcement over the loudspeaker after the match, telling fans to avoid certain exits “due to events outside,” without elaborating.
At first that prompted some panic, but then the crowds just walked dazed, hugging each other and looking at their phones for the latest news of the violence.
Former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said it is too early to know exactly who was behind the attacks.
Social media posts from purported ISIS supporters could indicate that “there was a group waiting for this, but it could be a group watching,” Chertoff said in an interview with MSNBC Friday night.
“I don’t think we can say this proves anything, but again it supports the idea that it’s terrorism,” Chertoff said.
John Cohen, a former Homeland Security Department counterterrorism coordinator, say the presence of multiple attack scenes at the same time suggested a coordinated effort to “send a message” and raises immediate terror concerns, including for other cities in Europe and potentially the United States as well. He said both Al Qaida and ISIS have relied on the strategy of coordinated attacks in the past.
In early January of this year, two gunmen attacked the Paris offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 and wounding 11.
Obama said he had not yet contacted Hollande.
Speaking from the White House briefing room, the President also declined to speculate on who was responsible.
Obama, however, expressed his condolences to the French people. “This is a heartbreaking situation and obviously those of us here in the United States know what it’s like and we’ve gone through these kinds of episodes ourselves,” Obama said.
World leaders expressed shock.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she is “deeply shaken by the news and pictures that are reaching us from Paris.” The German leader issued a statement saying her thoughts were with the victims “of the apparent terrorist attack.”
The Secretary-General of the NATO alliance says he is “deeply shocked by horrific Parisattacks.”
Jens Stoltenberg said in a Twitter message that “We stand together with the people of #France. Terrorism will never defeat democracy.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is condemning “the despicable terrorist attacks” in Parisand is demanding the immediate release of numerous hostages being held in the Bataclan theater.