By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
PARIS, FRANCE (ANS – November 14, 2015) – Paris is reeling in the aftermath of the worst violence in France since World War II, a series of terror attacks that killed more than 120 people on Friday.
The self-styled group, Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the horrific Paris attacks, for which France vowed revenge.
President Francois Hollande deemed the shootings and bombings “an act of war.” He said early Saturday, “We will lead the fight, and we will be ruthless.”
According to the BBC, three teams carried out the attacks in the French capital which killed 129 people and left more than 350 wounded, the Paris chief prosecutor says.
“We have to find out where they came from… and how they were financed,” Francois Molins told reporters.
He said seven attackers had been killed, and that all had been heavily armed and wearing explosive belts.
Friday’s attacks hit a concert hall, a major stadium, restaurants and bars.
“Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said France will continue with air strikes against IS in Syria and described the group as a very well-organized enemy,” said the BBC.
Mr. 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.
Omar Ismaïl Mostefai was identified after his finger was found at the Bataclan concert hall and matched fingerprints the police had on file, AFP reported.
Mostefai came from the town of Courcouronnes, 15 miles south of Paris. He had been identified by the security services as having been radicalized but had never been implicated in a counter-terrorism investigation.
Investigators are trying to find out whether he travelled to Syria in 2014, judicial sources told AFP.
French police have taken Mostefai’s father and brother into custody and searched their homes, and Mostefai’s older brother attended a police station voluntarily.
“It’s crazy, insane. I was in Paris myself last night, I saw what a mess it was,” he told AFP before being placed in custody.
He said he had not had contact with his younger brother for several years.
Mr. Molins also said the arrests of three men in Belgium on Saturday were linked to the attacks, stated the BBC story.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said investigators were trying to establish whether one of the suspects picked up near Brussels might have been in Paris on Friday evening.
Speaking in Paris on Saturday evening, Mr. Molins told reporters: “We can say at this stage of the investigation there were probably three coordinated teams of terrorists behind this barbaric act.”
Mr. Molins said all seven militants had used Kalashnikov assault rifles and the same type of explosive vests.
Mr. Molins also gave details about the state of the investigation, which he said was at a very early stage.
He said police were focusing on two vehicles. One is a black Seat used by gunmen at two of the attacks, and still untraced. The other is a black Volkswagen Polo with Belgian registration plates found at the concert venue that was targeted. He said this had been rented by a Frenchman living in Belgium.
He was identified while driving another vehicle in a spot check by police on Saturday morning as he crossed into Belgium with two passengers.
The BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris says investigators are working on the theory that these three may be another team of attackers who managed to flee the scene.
The Greek authorities say two people under investigation by the French police had registered in Greece as Syrian refugees. A Syrian passport was found near the body of one the attackers at the Stade de France. An Egyptian passport has also been linked to the attacks.
French President Francois Hollande imposed a state of emergency after the worst peacetime attack in France since World War Two. It is also the deadliest in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings.
The violence began soon after 21:00 (20:00 GMT) as people were enjoying a Friday night out in the French capital.
According to the BBC, gunmen opened fire on Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge (Little Cambodia) restaurant, near the Place de la Republique in the 10th arrondissement (district), killing 15 people.
“We heard the sound of guns, 30-second bursts. It was endless,” resident Pierre Montfort said.
A few streets away, diners sitting on the terrace of La Casa Nostra pizzeria were also fired on, with the loss of five lives.
Mr. Molins said 19 people had been killed at the Belle Equipe bar in the 11th arrondissement, while the toll from the attack on the Bataclan concert hall stood at 89.
At about the same time, on the northern outskirts of Paris, 80,000 people who had gathered to watch France play Germany in a soccer game at the Stade de France heard three explosions outside the stadium.
President Hollande was among the spectators and was whisked away after the first blast.
Investigators had found the bodies of three suicide bombers around the Stade de France, Mr. Molins said. One other person died in the blasts.
The 1,500-seat Bataclan concert hall in the 11th arrondissement suffered the worst of Friday night’s attacks. Gunmen opened fire on a sell-out gig by US rock group Eagles of Death Metal, killing 89 people.
“At first we thought it was part of the show but we quickly understood,” Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter, told AFP news agency.
“They didn’t stop firing. There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. We heard screaming. Everyone was trying to flee.”
According to Rolling Stone magazine, Nick Alexander, who worked the Eagles of Death Metal’s merchandise table during the group’s European tour, was among the those killed in the attack. Alexander’s family confirmed this in a statement. He was 36.
Refugee camp attacked
ANS correspondent, Adrian Hawkes, who supports Tamil churches in Paris, told us that his wife, Pauline, was due to travel to France tomorrow, where there was going to be a Christian concert in Calais, at a place called the Jungle, where refugees, mainly Sudanese, are camped out in a bed to get over to Dover in the UK.
“However, Pauline has just had a phone call from the organizers who had asked her to come, saying they will have to postpone the concert as the camp has been attacked by Nazi types,” said Adrian. “I believe their excuse was that they are blaming them for being a source that radicalized people who have been shooting up Paris. They have burnt tents. Actually, another friend of ours took about 100 tents there just a week or so ago and it seems they have mostly all gone.
“In the Jungle, they have built a tent church and a tent theatre. The tent theatre was where the concert was going to happen tomorrow night, however the organizers have phoned all who were going, including my wife, to ask for a postponement, as they have had to use the theatre area tent to sleep and accommodate the refugees who have had their tents burnt down in the attack.”
Photo captions: 1) A man being led to safety after an explosion and shooting in Paris took place in Paris’ Bataclan venue Friday night, where a reported 60 people were taken hostage and many have died. (Dominque Faget/AFP/Getty). 2) Paris is in mourning after Friday night’s wave of attacks(EPA). 3) The scene near the Bataclan concert hall following the terrorist attack (Francios Guillot/AFP/Getty Images). 4) Refugee camp on fire in Calais. 5) Dan Wooding appearing on a TV program.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He has reported from Burma on two occasions and is also the author of some 45 books and has two US-based TV programs –- “Windows on the World” and “Inside Hollywood with Dan Wooding” — which are both broadcast on the Holy Spirit Broadcasting Network (http://hsbn.tv/) and a weekly radio show called “Front Page Radio” on the KWVE Radio Network (www.kwve.com).
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