Dozens dead, borders closed, emergency declared after bloodiest day in France since WWII

At least three explosions were reported near the Stade de France, north of Paris, during a soccer match between France and Germany.
By Doug G. Ware  |  Updated Nov. 14, 2015 at 6:06 AM
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PARIS, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- An elaborate and coordinated terrorist attack struck in the heart of France on Friday evening -- with more than 100 people shot one by one at a concert hall, with gunfire and explosions killing and wounding dozens more elsewhere, officials and witnesses said.

Gunmen started shooting in downtown Paris about 9:30 p.m. local time, which was coordinated with multiple explosions near the national stadium, Stade de France, just north of the city in Saint-Denis.

Attackers also took about 100 people hostage at the city's Bataclan music hall during a concert, police said. Some of the hostages were freed early Saturday morning but officials said dozens also died inside the venue.

Paris Deputy Mayor Patrick Klugman said perhaps 118 people were killed there. France's interior ministry reportedly put that number at 112, according to CNN.

Those numbers do not include the dozens killed in the gunfire and explosions outside the music hall, which can seat 1,500 people. Officials identified six different sites near Paris that were attacked.

French authorities said early Saturday that eight terrorists carried out the attacks and all were killed -- seven of them by suicide bomb blasts.

Considering the entire scope of the terror attacks, Friday was the deadliest day in France since World War II -- and one of the bloodiest terror attacks on Western soil since 9/11.

Officials warned, though, that co-conspirators are likely still at large.

"To plan six attacks you need a lot of people involved, not only those who were at the spot," a senior European counter-terrorism official said.

French President Francois Hollande called the attacks "unprecedented" -- an assessment Klugman echoed in his remarks.

"We are facing an unknown and historic situation in Paris," he said.

"It was a bloodbath," radio reporter Julien Pearce, who was inside the Bataclan, said.

Officials later confirmed that gunmen had taken over the concert hall, and that at least two had been killed. Some reports also indicated that police officials believe at least one of the explosions was a suicide bombing.

French journalist Mathieu Cavada tweeted that at least four police officers were killed inside the Bataclan when two terrorists set off explosives strapped to their bodies. Police ultimately moved in and killed the gunmen.

Germany and France were playing a match at the soccer stadium at the time of the blasts, where Hollande was also in attendance. He was unharmed and left the stadium to assist in the emergency response.

Audio of one explosion can be heard on the broadcast of the game, which was posted to Vine.

Hollande held an emergency cabinet meeting, declared a national emergency and announced that France's international borders would be closed until further notice.

"Because when terrorists are capable of committing such atrocities, they must be certain that they are facing a determined France, a united France, a France that is together and does not let itself be moved, even if today we express infinite sorrow," Hollande said.

"We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless."

A lockdown and curfew were also issued for France's capital city as police searched for the attackers and tended to victims.

The border closures, however, did not impact air travel. Charles de Gaulle International Airport officials said security is tighter there, but passenger planes are still arriving and departing, The New York Times reported.

French officials are no stranger to terrorism. Earlier this year, a militant planned to attack passengers on a commuter train -- which was foiled by three Americans and a British man who were on the train. Separate shootings at a satirical magazine and a Jewish market also occurred in Paris this year.

One of the shootings reportedly occurred at the Cambroge restaurant. Photographs from France 2 TV employee Vincent Berthézène showed bullet damage to a window and emergency personnel surrounding the scene.

"There are a lot of dead people. It's pretty horrific to be honest ... The pile of bodies in front was too much for my wife to walk over," witness Ben Grant told BBC News.

U.S. President Barack Obama immediately responded to the attacks, saying they amount to a devastating blow to all people.

"Once again we've seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians. This is an attack not just on Paris. It's an attack not just on the people of France. But this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share," he said, pledging support to a nation he called the United States' oldest ally.

Obama had called Hollande earlier Friday to discuss the forthcoming climate change conference in Paris.

Secretary of State John Kerry echoed Obama's sentiments.

"These are heinous, evil, vile acts," he said. "Those of us who can must do everything in our power to fight back against what can only be considered an assault on our common humanity."

"I am shocked by events in Paris tonight," British Prime Minister David Cameron said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people. We will do whatever we can to help."

No one had claimed responsibility for the attacks by early Saturday.

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