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French police hunt for accomplices of attackers who terrorised Paris

At least 120 people were killed and scores more wounded in last night’s attacks.

FRENCH POLICE ARE hunting possible accomplices of eight attackers who terrorised Paris last night in a series of gun and bombing attacks.

Concert-goers, diners and soccer fans were all targeted in the country’s deadliest peacetime violence.

Parisians who went to sleep in horror at initial news of the attacks woke this morning to learn that at least 120 people were killed and scores wounded.

World leaders joined together in sympathy and indignation, and people around the world reached out to friends and loved ones in France.

The perpetrators remained a mystery — their nationalities, their motives, even their exact number.

France Paris Shooting Police officers stand guard outside the Stade de France Stadium. Source: Michel Spingler

Suspicion has turned to Islamic extremists, who are angry at France’s military operations against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida affiliates, and who targeted satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo this year and have hit Jewish and other sites in France in the past.

French President Francois Hollande convened a special security meeting this morning. He vowed to be “merciless” with the nation’s foes following what he called unprecedented terrorist attacks.

In a statement, the Taoiseach expressed his shock at the “carnage on the streets of Paris”.

“Again the capital is suffering at the hands of those who seek only to wreak havoc and destruction on civil society,” Enda Kenny said.

“My thoughts and those of all the Irish people are with the French people this evening. As ever we stand as one with them and will never bend to the evil of terrorism.”

Suicide bombings

In a new development for France, seven attackers died in suicide bombings, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.

Another was killed by police, and a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office said authorities couldn’t rule out that other attackers were at large.

Investigators are also looking for possible accomplices.

France Paris Shootings A victim walks outside the Bataclan theatre early this morning. Source: Associated Press

Near-simultaneous attacks

The attacks, on at least six sites, were near-simultaneous.

Three suicide bombs targeted spots around the national stadium Stade de France, north of the capital, where the French president was watching an exhibition soccer match between the French and German national teams.

Then gunshots rang out in a trendy Paris neighborhood, with gunmen targeted a string of popular cafes – crowded on the unusually balmy November night – and about 37 people were killed.

The attackers then stormed a concert hall, the Bataclan, hosting an American rock band, opened fire on the panicked audience, then took them hostage. As police closed in, three detonated explosive belts, killing themselves, according to Paris police chief Michel Cadot.

bata1 Source: TheJournal.ie

Another attacker detonated a suicide bomb on Boulevard Voltaire, near the music hall, the prosecutor’s office said.

The Bataclan was the scene of the worst carnage. Dozens of survivors were offered counseling and blankets in a municipal building set up as a crisis centre in the wake of the attack.

Tweet by @AP Interactive Source: AP Interactive/Twitter

Reaction

Jihadis on Twitter immediately praised the attackers and criticised France’s military operations against Islamic State.

Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced renewed border checks along frontiers that are normally open under the EU’s free-travel zone.

“A determined France, a united France, a France that joins together and a France that will not allow itself to be staggered even if today, there is infinite emotion faced with this disaster, this tragedy, which is an abomination, because it is barbarism,” Hollande said.

President Barack Obama, speaking to reporters in Washington, decried an “attack on all humanity,” calling the Paris violence an “outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians”.

Though it was unclear who was responsible for last night’s violence, the Islamic State is “clearly the name at the top of everyone’s list,” Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert and senior adviser to the president of the Washington-based RAND Corporation, said.

“The big question on everyone’s mind is, were these attackers, if they turn out to be connected to one of the groups in Syria, were they homegrown terrorists or were they returning fighters from having served” with the Islamic State group, Jenkins said.

“That will be a huge question.”

Travel advice

The Department of Foreign Affairs travel advice for Irish citizens has been updated this morning – with people being told to “exercise extreme caution”.

“A state of emergency has been declared in Paris following multiple events on Friday evening. Citizens in Paris should exercise extreme caution and follow the instructions of the local authorities, who are advising people to stay indoors. Irish citizens in Paris should make contact to reassure their family at home as to their safety.

“Airports remain operational but Irish citizens in or travelling to France should expect additional security and possible travel disruptions. Anyone intending to travel to Paris should contact their airline or tour operator for further information.”

The Department has set up a phone line at 01-408-2000 for anyone worried about relatives or friends not yet accounted for in Paris.

Any Irish in Paris can also contact the Embassy on +33144176700.

Associated Press with reporting from Daragh Brophy.

Read: ‘This time, it’s war’ – French media reacts to deadly Paris attacks

Read: More than 80 people killed in attack at Paris concert venue

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