UPDATED Saturday, 6:15PM: The terrorist rampage that left at least 129 dead and hundreds injured in Paris was carried out by at least 10 conspirators including suicide bombers that split into three teams and spread out across the city Friday evening, French officials said Saturday. Icons of French culture the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre were shut down along with cinemas and special film events, and public gatherings in the city have been banned until Thursday. As shaken as the city is, many people lit candles and placed flowers at makeshift memorials in neighborhoods hit hardest by the attacks.
“We are facing an act of war organized by an army of terrorist jihadists that had already organized and planned attacks in the past,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Saturday evening. “Five attacks have been thwarted since this summer. But we have always said that there is no such thing as zero risk. We have always said that France could face new terrorist attacks.”
Six of Friday’s attackers blew themselves up and a seventh was killed by police. Multiple suspects have been arrested in Paris and in Belgium, and another man previously picked up in Germany may be connected to the attacks.
Paris Chief Prosecutor Francois Molins said the assault appeared to involve a multinational team with links to the Middle East, Belgium and possibly Germany as well as home-grown French roots. Molins confirmed that one of the dead attackers had been identified as a 29-year-old Frenchman who had a criminal record, but had never spent time in jail. Greek officials said one and perhaps two of the assailants had passed through Greece from Turkey alongside Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their homeland.
UPDATED Saturday, 6:30 AM: The Islamic State released a statement early today claiming responsibility for the Paris attacks that left a reported 129 dead at six separate sites. Calling France a “capital of prostitution and obscenity,” the statement said, “Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the Islamic State.” The encrypted claim was published in Arabic, English and French on the Islamic State’s Telegram account and then re-transmitted by the group’s supporters on Twitter.
Around the world, from Sydney, Australia to New York City, the French Tricolor illuminated iconic sites to demonstrate sympathy and solidarity with the French people. Vigils are being planned as well, with two in New York City preparing for this afternoon and evening — one in Union Square and another near the French embassy on Fifth Avenue, according to local news reports.
UPDATED, Saturday 14 November, 02.32 AM: French President Francois Hollande has labelled the terror attacks in Paris “an act of war” organized by the Islamic State, and vowed that France “will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group.”
Speaking at a televised press conference, Hollande issued a strong address to a mourning nation, saying the attacks were “committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State group, a jihadist army, against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: a free country that means something to the whole planet.”
His address was covered live by the majority of the international media, including Sky News, the BBC and CNN. He has declared three days of national mourning and put the country’s security on the highest level of alert. Also on Saturday, a video purportedly released by Islamic State, released through Islamic State’s propaganda arm, vowed that, “As long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear traveling to the market.” France is part of the international coalition, including the U.S., UK and a number of Arab countries, targeting IS in Syria and Iraq, where the fanatical terrorists have suffered a number of strategic losses in recent days.
UPDATED, 8:16 PM: A source tells Deadline that all the Eagles of Death Metal band members are safe and in the process of returning to the U.S.
WRITETHRU, 7:51 PM: At least 120 people and as many as 160 were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, including at least 100 in a packed concert hall. Coming 10 months after a dozen people were killed at the offices of satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, It was the deadliest violence in the French capital since World War II.
Reports on the number of casualties vary, but French police have confirmed at least 120 dead and more than 200 wounded.
A half-dozen separate incidents rocked Paris, including multiple bombs that detonated outside the Stade de France, where the country’s national soccer team was playing against Germany. President François Hollande was at the game but was evacuated. In a televised address later, he called the attacks “a terrible trauma for France” and declared a state of emergency in the country and ordered its borders sealed. Authorities said 1,500 extra soldiers have been deployed in Paris.
Paris’ chief prosecutor said there were at least seven attackers, and police believe all of them were killed.
President Obama called the carnage “a heartbreaking situation.” “This is an attack of all of humanity and the universal values that we share,” he said in a televised address. “We stand prepared to provide whatever assistance the government and people of France need to respond. France is our oldest ally … and we want to be very clear that we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism.” He did not take questions from reporters.
Most of the victims of Friday’s violence were attending a sold-out concert by Southern California rock band Eagles of Death Metal at Le Bataclan. Police said multiple gunmen and three suicide bombers attacked the venue, and reports say hostages and were being shot one by one with automatic weapons. Police said that French SWAT teams ultimately stormed the 1,500-capacity venue, and three of the attackers blew themselves up with suicide vests. Michael Dorio, brother of the band’s drummer Julian Dorio, told CNN that his brother told him the group was performing and stopped playing when they heard gunshots and “hit the deck and went backstage and exited as fast as they could.” There has been no official comment from the group, and the latest posting on its social media pages said, “We are currently trying to determine the safety and whereabouts of all our band and crew.”
Rock band U2 said tonight that it has canceled its planned concert Saturday at AccorHotels Arena that HBO was planning to film and air as a special later Saturday in the U.S. Elsewhere in the City of Lights, the Live Earth concert — a 24-hour event organized by Al Gore’s Climate Reality that included such superstar acts as Elton John, Pharrell, Neil Young and Duran Duran — was ended after word of the attacks spread. “Out of solidarity with the French people and the City of Paris, we have decided to suspend our broadcast,” the group said in a statement.
American cable news networks were quick to cut to live coverage of the tragedy by about 1:20 PM PT. When word of the attacks first broke, MSNBC tossed to Brian Williams, per NBC News’ stated plan to have him anchor the cable news network during big breaking news events. “Kate and I are both struggling with high school French recall,” Williams said as MSNBC’s pickup of a French TV station showed the banner: “Prise D’Otages En Cours Au Bataclan.”
At 1:39 PM, George Stephanopoulos broke in with ABC coverage of the attacks for about two minutes. ABC came back again just after the top of the hour. At 1:47 PM, NBC went live with coverage hosted by Lester Holt. Fox local also broke in for special report from Fox News’ Shep Smith on the cable news net, and CBS had a Scott Pelley-hosted special report. Later in the evening, CBS News had a special 1-hour telecast – the only one of the networks to extend its nightly broadcast.