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13 November 2015

Paris attacks: 129 dead and 352 injured as attackers are identified

France has declared a national state of emergency after a series of shootings and explosions - the deadliest attacks in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings.

By Helen Lewis

Francois Hollande has declared a national state of emergency, and partially closed France’s borders, after a series of shootings and explosions in the north and east of Paris. The Paris prosecutor has confirmed that 129 people have been killed and 352 injured, 99 of them critically. There were three teams of attackers, all with suicide bombs.

Isis has claimed responsibility. In a statement released online, the group said the attacks were intended to show France that it remained a “top target” and that “eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles” participated. It goes on to say that “this attack is just the start of a storm and a warning for those who wish to draw lessons”.

One of the attackers has now been identified as Omar Ismail Mostefai, a 29-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin, who had a criminal record and had been identified as a radicalisation risk in 2010. Paris prosecutor François Molins has also said that a Syrian passport, belonging to a man born in 1990 and not known to the police, was found near the bodies of two other bombers. Three others have been named as French brothers Ibrahim and Salah Abdeslam and a third man, Bilal Hadfi.

There were attacks in six locations across the city: at Le Bataclan concert venue at the intersection of the 10th, 11th and third arrondissements; outside the Stade de France; at La Belle Equipe pavement cafe; and at two restaurants, Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge. The Bataclan attack was by far the most deadly, with 89 people believed to have died. It has been reported that Syria was evoked as the motive at the scene.

On Friday evening, explosions were reported outside the Stade de France, where the country’s football team were playing Germany. (One was captured on a Vine by a spectator.) The president, Francois Hollande, was at the stadium and was evacuated. He has since called a Cabinet meeting and declared a state of emergency, closing the French borders to anyone trying to leave the country and banning traffic from some streets in Paris. He has called the events of the night “a horror” and vowed to wage a “merciless” fight against terrorism.

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Eight of the attackers are dead, seven of them after detonating suicide bombs. (These are the first such attacks on French soil.)

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In the Stade de France, the game was halted and some of the spectators at the game were held in the ground after Hollande left, before later being evacuated. 

At the same time, a hundred people were taken hostage near the Bataclan arts centre, which is around 200 yards from the former offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was attacked by gunmen at the start of the year. Witnesses reported two gunmen who started firing into the crowd. Just before midnight, the French police reported that the gunmen were dead.

There was also a shooting outside the Petit Cambodge restaurant in the 11th arrondissement. A BBC reporter on the scene reported seeing 10 people on the ground, either dead or seriously injured.

New Statesman contributing writer Shiraz Maher, a Senior Research Fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation at Kings College London who has written this week’s cover story on whether Isis is planning to strike in Britain, tweeted: “I’m hearing from (well informed) contacts in France that this attack is Syria related.”

Police and rescuers are seen outside a cafe-brasserie in 10th arrondissement. All photos: Getty

The US president Barack Obama gave a statement, saying: “We stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism. This is a heartbreaking situation and those of us here in the US know what it’s like we have gone through these kind of episodes ourselves.” The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has tweeted:

Read the full statements from leaders around the world here.