Paris : On a night when thousands of Paris residents and tourists were reveling and fans were enjoying a soccer match between France and world champion Germany, horror struck in an unprecedented manner.
Terrorists — some with AK-47s, some reportedly with bombs strapped to them — attacked sites throughout the French capital and at the stadium where the soccer match was underway.
Scores were killed in the coordinated attacks late Friday, leaving a nation in mourning and the world in shock.
A Paris city hall official said gunmen systematically slaughtered nearly 100 people attending a rock concert at the Bataclan music hall. Anti-terrorist commandos eventually launched an assault on the building, killed the gunmen and rescued dozens of shocked survivors.
Paris Public Prosecutor Francois Molins said five assailants had been “neutralised”.
The apparently coordinated assault came as France, a founder member of the US-led coalition waging air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert for terrorist attacks ahead of a global climate conference due to open later this month.
After being whisked from the soccer stadium near the blasts, President Hollande declared a nationwide state of emergency – the first in decades – and announced the closure of France’s borders to stop perpetrators escaping.
The Paris metro railway was closed and schools, universities and municipal buildings were ordered to stay shut on Saturday. However some rail and air services are expected to run.
“This is a horror,” the visibly shaken President said in a midnight television address to the nation before chairing an emergency cabinet meeting.
Witnesses in the hall heard the gunmen shout Islamic slogans and slogans condemning France’s role in Syria.
“We know where these attacks come from,” Hollande said, without naming any individual group. “There are indeed good reasons to be afraid.”