At least 39 killed in Paris 'terror' attacks

13th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

At least 39 people were killed in an "unprecedented" series of bombings and shootings across Paris on Friday.

Police said at least 15 people were killed at the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, only some 200 metres (yards) from the former offices of Charlie Hebdo which were attacked by jihadists in January.

Hostages were taken and at around 2335 GMT, police stormed the venue accompanied by a series of explosions.

At least three people were killed near the Stade de France stadium which is situated in the north of the capital, where France were playing Germany in a football match watched by President Francois Hollande.

An AFP journalist heard multiple explosions.

One explosion was a suicide attack, several sources said.

A source close to the investigation said at least 39 people had been killed.

"Terrorist attacks of an unprecedented level are underway across the Paris region," Hollande said in an emotional televised message.

"There are several dozen dead. It's a horror," he said.

One witness at the Bataclan described a scene of carnage at the concert hall.

"I saw 20 to 25 bodies lying on the floor and people were very badly injured, gunshot wounds," Julien Pierce told Europe 1 radio.

"Some of them were dead. Some of them were very badly wounded, but it was a bloodbath."

Hollande declared a state of emergency across the entire country and said the borders had been closed.

The military had been mobilised to reinforce police and ensure no further attacks took place, he said.

Another attack was reported at a Cambodian restaurant called Petit Cambodge, not far from the Bataclan venue in northeast Paris.

Counter-terrorism prosecutors said they had opened a preliminary investigation.

- 'They opened fire' -

At the Stade de France, Hollande was attending the match and had to be hastily evacuated.

Spectators flooded the pitch as news of the attacks spread before organisers started an evacuation.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, called for residents to stay at home.

"We heard gunfire, 30 seconds of fire, it was interminable, we thought it was fireworks," said Pierre Montfort, who lives near rue Bichat, where the Cambodian restaurant is located.

"Everyone was on the floor, no one moved," said another eyewitness who had been at the Petit Cambodge restaurant.

"A girl was carried by a young man in his arms. She appeared to be dead."

The toll "will be much heavier" than the initial confirmed deaths, a security source said.

Camille, 25, said: "My sister is in the Bataclan. I phoned her. She said they opened fire. And then she hung up."

An AFP reporter outside the Bataclan said there were police carrying machine-guns and more than 20 police wagons with their lights flashing around the scene.

Hollande travelled to the interior ministry to set up a crisis cell with other ministers.

"The president of the Republic, the prime minister, the interior minister are in a inter-ministerial crisis cell," the government said in a statement.

The president's office said an exceptional council of ministers would be called at midnight.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Union chief Jean-Claude Juncker said they were "deeply shocked" by the attacks.

France has been on high alert since the jihadist attacks in January against the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket that left 17 dead.

Several other attacks have been foiled through the year.

More than 500 French fighters are thought to be with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, according to official figures, while 250 have returned and some 750 expressed a desire to go there.

The government announced last week that it was restoring border checks as a security measure for UN climate talks that start in Paris at the end of this month.

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© 2015 AFP

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