Paris shootings, explosions leave at least 160 dead

PARIS: At least 160 people were killed while 200 were injured in a series of gun attacks across Paris on Friday, as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany.

Around 100 people were killed in an attack on the Bataclan concert venue in Paris on Friday night, police sources said.

Three suspected terrorists were killed when police stormed the venue, the sources said.

French President Francois Hollande said he had declared a state of emergency across the country after simultaneous attacks in Paris. He has also closed off all the borders. In a statement, he said, “The second decision I have made is to close the borders. We must ensure that no one enters to commit any crimes and that those who have committed the crimes that we have unfortunately seen can also be arrested if they should leave the territory.”

Police said at least 15 people had been killed at the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, only around 200 metres from the former offices of Charlie Hebdo which were attacked in January.

Three people were killed in an explosion outside the Stade de France north of the capital, police said, during a match between Germany and France.

President Francois Hollande was evacuated from the stadium before the end of the match.

Police said a hostage scenario was ongoing at the venue, which is in an area known for its busy nightlife.

“At least three shootings took place, possibly four in the Bataclan area and rue Charonne” in eastern Paris, a police spokesman told AFP.

 Spectators flooded the pitch as news of the attacks spread. Organisers started evacuating the stadium by three doors.

Another attack was reported at the Petit Cambodge restaurant, not far from the Bataclan venue.

An AFP reporter outside the Bataclan said there were armed police and some 20 police wagons with their lights flashing around the scene.

Stunned onlookers had begun to emerge from nearby bars, while many others continued to eat their meals in restaurants, apparently unaware of the carnage that had taken place only a few metres away.

“We heard gunfire, 30 seconds of fire, it was interminable, we thought it was fireworks,” said Pierre Montfort, who lives near rue Bichat, where one of the attacks took place.

President Francois Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that a crisis cell had been set up.

“The president of the Republic, the prime minister, the interior minister are in an inter-ministerial crisis cell,” the government said in a statement.

Counter-terrorism prosecutors said they had opened a preliminary investigation.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, called for residents to stay at home. The authorities have also closed the metro system. 

Meanwhile United States President Barack Obama has been informed about a series of deadly attacks that rocked Paris on Friday, a White House official said.

Obama condemned the series of deadly attacks across Paris as an “attack on all of humanity” and pledged to work with France to bring those responsible to justice.

“Whenever these kinds of attacks happen, we've always been able to count on the French people to stand with us. They have been an extraordinary counterterrorism partner. And we intend to be there with them in that same fashion,” Obama said in a brief speech from the White House.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also said he was “shocked” after at least 18 people were reported killed in multiple attacks in Paris, including one near the Stade de France sports stadium.

“I am shocked by events in Paris tonight,” the Prime Minister wrote on Twitter.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people. We will do whatever we can to help."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “profoundly shocked” by a string of deadly attacks in Paris on Friday.

“I am profoundly shocked by the news and images from Paris. At this time, my thoughts are with the victims of these apparently terrorist attacks, and with their families and all residents of Paris,” Merkel said in a statement.

The Kremlin also condemned the “hateful “string of attacks and the “inhuman murders” of at least 39 people in Paris, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, Russian news agencies reported.

President Vladimir Putin offered condolences and support to his counterpart Francois Hollande and the French people, TASS news agency said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed solidarity with France. "I am shocked and saddened that so many people have been killed and injured in violent attacks in Paris,” Trudeau said, offering his condolences.

“Canada stands with France at this dark time and offers all possible assistance. “

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks and called for any hostages to be immediately released.

“The secretary-general condemns the despicable terrorist attacks carried out today in various locations in and around Paris,” according to a statement from his spokesman.

“The secretary-general extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured. He stands with the government and people of France. “

European Union chief Jean-Claude Juncker said he was “deeply shocked” by the attacks.

France has been on high alert since the attacks in January against Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket that left 17 dead. Several other attacks have been foiled through the year.

Note: This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

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