Hollande: ‘Act Of War’ Was Organized By ISIS

PARIS( AP) — French President Francois Hollande vowed to attack the Islamic State group without mercy as the jihadist group admitted responsibility Saturday for orchestrating the deadliest assaults inflicted on France since World War II.

Reuters reported that 129 people are dead and 352 injured — 99 critically — after suicide bombings near France’s national stadium and a hostage-taking carnage inside a concert hall.

Hollande, who declared three days of national mourning and raised the nation’s security to its highest level, called the carnage “an act of war that was prepared, organized, schemed from abroad with internal help.”

The Islamic State group’s claim of responsibility appeared in Arabic and French in an online statement circulated by IS supporters. It was not immediately possible to confirm the authenticity of the admission, which the group’s logo and resembled previous verified statements from the group.

Authorities told eight assailants died, seven in suicide bombings, a new terror tactic in France. Police said they shoot and killed the other assailant. According to the Paris prosecutor, there appear to have been three squads of assailants. He added that the attackers at the Bataclan hall mentioned Syria and Iraq during the siege.

As Hollande addressed the nation, French anti-terror police worked to identify the attackers and potential accomplice. Police identified one of the bombers as a young Frenchman who had been flagged by authorities for his ties to Islamic extremism.

Reuters reported that a Syrian passport was received near the bodies of one of the bombers, and that right holders of the passport passed through Greece in October.

A spokesman for Belgium’s Justice Minister said on Saturday that authorities had stimulated several arrests in the capital, Brussels, in connection with the two attacks. Koen Geens has pointed out that the license plates of one of the cars used during Friday’s assaults had Belgian license plates, and that receipts found inside the car were issued in a Brussels neighborhood.

A 51 -year-old man arrested in Germany last week with weapons in his car may also be linked to the attacks, the governor of Bavaria told Saturday.

Prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre told authorities couldn’t rule out the possibility that other activists involved in the attack remained at large.

World leaders united in pity and indignation, New York police increased security measures, and people worldwide reached out to friends and loved ones in France.

The violence raised questions about security for the millions of tourists who come to Paris and for world events routinely hosted in the normally luminous capital, where troops were deployed to support police trying to restore order.

One of Europe’s most heavily visited tourist attractions, the Disneyland theme park east of the capital, announces that it would not open for business Saturday, a rarity.

Hollande told France – which is already bombing IS targets in Syria and Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition, and has troops opposing activists in Africa – “will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group.”

Reflecting anxieties in other European capitals of health risks of coordinated or copycat assaults, the British government scheduled a meeting of its own emergency COBRA intelligence committee overseen by Prime Minister David Cameron. Italy said it, too, was creating security levels on perimeters and major public places.

Friday night’s activists launched at the least six firearm and bomb attacks in rapid succession on apparently indiscriminate civilian targets.

Three suicide bombs targeted spots around the national Stade de France stadium , north of the capital, where Hollande was watching an exhibition soccer match. Fan inside the stadium recoiled at the sound of explosions, but the match continued amid rising spectator fears.

The Wall Street reported that one of the suicide bombers had tickets to the match, but was turned away when his explosives were discovered at which point he blew himself up.

Around the same time, fusillades of bullets shattered the clinking of wine glass in a trendy Paris neighborhood as gunmen targeted a string of cafes, which were mobbed on an remarkably balmy November night. At least 37 people were killed, according to Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins.

The attackers next stormed a concert hall, the Bataclan, which was hosting the American boulder band Eagles of Death Metal. They opened fire on the panicked audience and took members captive. As police closed in, three detonated explosive belts, killing themselves, according to Paris police chief Michel Cadot.

Another attacker detonated a suicide bomb on Boulevard Voltaire, near the music hall, the prosecutor’s office told.

The Bataclan was the scene of the worst carnage.

Video shot from an apartment balcony and posted on the Le Monde website Saturday captured some of that horror as dozens of people fled from gunfire outside the Bataclan down a passageway to a side street.( Advising: graphic footage below .)

At least person or persons lies writhing on the ground as ratings more creek past, some of them bloodied or limping. The camera pans down the street to reveal more fleeing people dragging two bodies along the ground. A both women and two others can be seen clinging to upper-floor balcony railings in an apparent desperate bid to stay out of the line of fire.

Le Monde said its reporter who filmed the scene from his apartment balcony, Daniel Psenney, was shot in the arm after he stopped filming, when he went downstairs to help someone who had collapsed in the alley.

Sylvain, a tall, sturdy 38 -year-old concert-goer, collapsed in tears as he recounted the attack, the chaos and his escape during a lull in gunfire.

“I was watching the concert in the pit, in the midst of the mass of the audience. First I heard explosions, and I thought it was firecrackers.

“Very soon I smelled powder, and I understood what was happening. There were shots everywhere, in waves. I lay down on the floor. I assured at the least two shooters, but I heard others talk. They exclaimed, ‘It’s Hollande’s fault.’ I heard one of the shooters wail, ‘Allahu Akbar, ‘” Sylvain told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition that his full name not be used out of concern for his safety.

He was among dozens of survivors offered counseling and blankets in a municipal building put up as a crisis center.

Jihadis on Twitter immediately praised the attackers and blamed France’s military operations against Islamic State extremists.

Hollande declared a country of emergency and announced renewed border checks along frontiers that are normally open under Europe’s free-travel zone.

In a televised Friday night address he appealed to citizens to maintain “a ascertained France, a united France, a France that joins together and a France that will not allow itself to be staggered, even if today there is infinite feeling faced with this disaster, this misfortune, which is an abomination, because it is barbarism.”

President Barack Obama, speaking to reporters in Washington, condemned an “attack on all humanity.”

A U.S. official briefed by the Justice Department tells intelligence officials were not well informed any threats before Friday’s attacks.

The Disneyland Paris theme park announces that it would not open for business Saturday but billed the move as a matter of pity , not security.

Disney said in a statement it would remain closed “in light of the recent tragic events in France and in support of our community and the victims of these horrendous attacks.” Some 14.2 million people visited the attraction last year.

Paris is expected to host 80 the heads of state and government, including Obama, for a climate summit in two weeks. In June, France is scheduled to host the European football championship – with the Stade de France a major venue.

And Paris-based UNESCO is expecting world leaders Monday for a forum about overcoming extremism. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani canceled a journey because of Friday’s assaults. Hollande canceled a planned journey to this weekend’s G-2 0 summit in Turkey.

France has been on edge since January, when Islamic extremists attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had run cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and a kosher grocery. Twenty people died in those attacks, including three shooters.

On Friday night they targeted young people enjoying a boulder concert and ordinary city residents celebrating the end of the run week and cheering their nation’s football squad as it took on the defending World Cup champions.

France has ensure several smaller-scale assaults or endeavors this year, including on a high-speed train in August when American travelers overwhelmed a heavily armed man.

French authorities are particularly concerned about the threat from hundreds of French Islamic radicals who have traveled to Syria and returned home with skills to mount attacks.

“The big question on everyone’s mind is: Were these attackers – if they turn out to be connected to one of the groups in Syria – were they homegrown terrorists or were they returning fighters? ” told Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert and senior adviser to the president of the Washington-based RAND Corporation. “That will be a huge question.”

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