The week that rocked France and the world

20th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

On Friday, November 13, at 9:20 pm (2020 GMT), an explosion by a suicide bomber at France's national sports stadium signalled the start of carnage in Paris.

A state of emergency, a massive police raid, a nation at one and worldwide solidarity all form part of a historic week.

- Horror -

On Friday evening, a suicide bomber blows himself up outside the Stade de France national stadium in Paris's northern suburb of Saint-Denis during a friendly between France and Germany.

A passerby is killed and French President Francois Hollande is promptly evacuated from the stadium.

Two other suicide bombers blow themselves up in the coming 30 minutes outside the stadium.

At the same time in Paris's trendy 10th and 11th districts, a jihadist commando carries out a deadly car ride, opening fire on people sitting in bars and restaurants and killing at least 39. One of the attackers then blows himself up.

Then, at 9:40 pm (2040 GMT), three other killers burst into the Bataclan concert hall in the 11th district shouting "Allahu akbar" during a concert by Californian group Eagles of Death Metal.

Three hours later French elite police storm the hall. The three attackers are killed. Those who have escaped the massacre squelch through blood and step over corpses to leave. The toll: 89 dead.

With an overall toll of 130 dead and 352 injured across Paris, the attacks are the deadliest in France.

- The French riposte -

At midnight on Friday, Hollande calls an extraordinary government meeting, establishes a state of emergency and re-establishes border checks.

He visits the Bataclan, where he says France will strike back at the attackers "without mercy". The jihadist Islamic State claims responsibility.

From Sunday, France carries air strikes on the IS stronghold in Syria, Raqa, while the aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle is sent to the eastern Mediterranean to triple France's air capacity in the region.

On Monday at noon a minute's silence is observed throughout France. Schools and museums which had been closed after the attacks, reopen.

Addressing both houses of parliament, Hollande calls on lawmakers to back a three-month extension of the state of emergency and calls for constitutional reforms to boost the state's ability to fight terrorism.

He says he intends to forge a "coalition" against the IS with the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama.

On Tuesday evening, at the British football stadium Wembley which is hosting a friendly match between France and England, the stadium creates a precedent in singing the French anthem la Marseillaise.

Several monuments across the world are decked with the red, white and blue colours of the French flag.

- The probe and the raid -

The entry into force of the state of emergency opens the way to a wave of raids and arrests.

In one week the police carry out nearly 800 searches and detain around 100.

The investigators concentrate their search on Salah Abdeslam, brother of one of the suicide bombers, and Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is believed to be the ringleader.

On Wednesday around 4:20 am (0320 GMT) elite police raid the suspected hideaway of Abaaoud, an apartment in the centre of the northern suburb of Saint-Denis.

The raid is very violent with more than 5,000 bullets fired by police. The building partly collapses. Three people are killed and eight arrested.

A day later, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins confirms that Abaaoud has been killed, aged 28.

The judicial authorities identify a woman who died alongside Abaaoud, his cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen, a young woman of Moroccan origin who lurched towards radical Islam about six months ago.

Paris bars solemnly mark the traditional arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau on Thursday but the crowds are noticeably thinner than previous years.


© 2015 AFP

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