As Paris emerges from what can only be described as a night of fear, it is becoming apparent that the death toll in the attacks on Paris has risen dramatically from the initial estimates and by the morning of November 14, at least 120 are believed to be dead and some 200 injured.
The greatest carnage was at the Bataclan arts centre where an audience of young people were awaiting the start of a concert by American band Eagles of Death Metal when a number of shots from automatic weapons rang out. It is reported that the shooting lasted for 15 minutes and that a large number of hostages were taken.
Police stormed the club, shooting one terrorist whilst three others blew themselves up and released a number of those being held. It is suggested however, that some of the assailants managed to escape. The band itself was unharmed and according to Rolling Stone magazine, announced on their Facebook page “We are still currently trying to determine the safety and whereabouts of all our band and crew. Our thoughts are with all of the people involved in this tragic situation.”
The total number of terrorist deaths is reported as eight, of whom seven blew themselves up and police are still considering whether any have survived and are still at large.
Although it was originally suggested that there were three attacks, in actual fact there were no less than six in total, three of which consisted of suicide bombers in the area of the Stade de France where France were playing a friendly match with Germany. Both President Hollande and the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier were in attendance but were soon evacuated from the stadium.
One bomber blew himself up outside of McDonalds and two more by bars near to the stadium, but the death toll there is reported as being quite small, although one can only imagine the devastation if the explosions had taken place when the spectators were flocking to the match or indeed if the terrorists had managed to get inside the stadium.
Many others died after random assaults on restaurants including a Cambodian restaurant where at least 11 people died. No group has accepted responsibility for the outrage although there is a report in one newspaper that a single terrorist has been captured and admitted that he was involved with ISIS. What appears to be more concrete is a witness statement saying that one of the seven who blew themselves up shouted that the attack was in revenge for French involvement in Syria.
The French police and army were quickly on the streets of Paris, urging residents to remain indoors and reportedly closing down the metro system, whilst the state of emergency has included the closing of borders with other countries and this may well also affect flights to and from France.
World leaders including those from America, Britain, Canada, China, Germany, Pakistan, Russia and many more have sent their condolences and messages of support to the French people and many countries have now put their own defence forces on alert against possible follow up attacks which realistically could strike anywhere.
Perhaps surprisingly, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani condemned the attack and the “evil scourge of terrorism”, the state-owned Press TV reported.
“I strongly condemn these inhumane crimes and condole with the bereaved French nation and government,” Rouhani said.
It should of course be remembered that France had granted asylum to the Ayatollah Khomeini prior to his return to Iran following the overthrow of the Shah and this may have prompted the statement.
Ironically, or perhaps intentionally, the bulk of the attacks occurred in the 11th arrondissement the same general area as the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which had been the scene of a massacre in January this year.
Due to its colonial past, France has a large number of permanent residents with French nationality who have family ties with North and West Africa where there is of course a strong Muslim heritage. Until such time as the terrorists are identified, the world will not know whether those responsible were from within or without.
It is with a feeling of regret and sorrow that we are having to post this news and on behalf of all of us from Euro Weekly News, we add our condolences to those who have lost their lives, their loved ones or have been injured in this latest atrocity.