DEVELOPING – Terrorists wielding AK-47s and hurling explosives executed at least 118 people inside a Paris concert hall late Friday night, in a massacre that followed coordinated attacks that killed at least 40 more people, rocking the French capital — prompting President Francois Hollande to close the entire nation’s borders and order a state of emergency.
The carnage inside the music venue ended around midnight local time when French police stormed inside, killing three Kalashnikov-toting gunmen who witnesses said wore flak jackets as they slaughtered horrified spectators. The victims had gathered to see the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal, and a handful managed to escape to tell of the horror taking place inside where the killers shouted “This is for Syria!” and “Alahu Akhbar!” as they cut down patrons from a balcony before the band took the stage.
Julien Pierce, a Europe 1 journalist who was inside the Bataclan, described what he saw to the BBC.
“It lasted between 10 and 15 minutes,” he said. “It was extremely violent and there was panic. The attackers had enough time to reload at least three times. They were very young.”
Marc Coupris, 57, still shaking after being freed from inside the Bataclan, toldThe Guardian he thought he would soon be dead.
“It looked like a battlefield, there was blood everywhere, there were bodies everywhere,” Coupris said. “I was at the far side of the hall when shooting began. There seemed to be at least two gunmen. They shot from the balcony.
“I saw my final hour unfurl before me, I thought this was the end. I thought, ‘I’m finished, I’m finished,'” he said.
As many as six other attacks occurred, involving shootings and at least two suicide bombers, including one who detonated near the city’s Stade de France soccer stadium where the French and German national teams were playing in a match attended by Hollande. The death toll from all of the attacks was expected to climb, and more than 60 were reportedly wounded in grim, early tallies
“There are lots of dead people,” said a witness believed to have been at the bar of a restaurant that was the scene of one attack. “It’s pretty horrific to be honest. I was at the back of the bar. I couldn’t see anything. I heard gunshots. People dropped to the ground. We put a table over our heads to protect us.”
“There are lots of dead people. It’s pretty horrific to be honest.”
– Witness to attack on restaurant
One man was reportedly arrested, and Twitter accounts linked to ISIS celebrated the attacks, but no terror organizations immediately claimed credit. A gunman at one of the attacks, at Petit Cambodge, a Cambodian restaurant in the city’s fashionable 10th arrondisement, was also reportedly heard shouting “This is for Syria!” as he sprayed gunfire at horrified patrons, witnesses said. Another attack took place at a Forum Des Halles, a shopping mall. It was unclear how many people were kiled at each of the attacks.
In a brief address following the nation’s deadliest day since World War II, Hollande, who was rapidly evacuated from the stadium following the first explosion declared the entire nation under a state of emergency and ordered all borders closed. The president said “unprecedented terrorist attacks were underway,” and his decree meant no one can leave or enter the nation until the order is lifted.
“France needs to be strong,’ a somber Hollande said. “What the terrorists want is for us to be scared. In the face of terror, we must be united.”