PARIS: France declared a state of emergency and three days of national mourning after 129 people were killed and 352 injured – 99 seriously – in the six co-ordinated gun and bomb terrorist attacks across Paris on Friday night.
Some 89 died at the Bataclan concert hall in the centre of the capital. Gunmen took hostages before detonating suicide devices when police stormed the building. Others died in attacks on restaurants and near the Stade de France, where France were playing Germany.
Prosecutors said seven attackers had been killed, and that all had been heavily armed, wearing explosive belts and had worked in three teams. The subsequent arrests of three men in Belgium on Saturday were linked to the attacks.
One of the dead attackers had been identified as a 30-year-old Frenchman who had a criminal record but had never spent time in jail.
The man came from the town of Courcouronnes, 15 miles west of Paris. He had been identified by the security services as having been radicalised but had never been implicated in a counter-terrorism investigation.
Messages of shock and condolence poured in from political leaders across the world.
In a national address President Francois Hollande, who had been attending the football match, said: “This is a horror. Two decisions have been taken: a state of emergency is being decreed which means certain places will be closed, traffic may be banned and searches may also take place throughout the Paris region.
“The second decision I have taken is to close the borders. We must guarantee that no one can come in to commit any act. And at the same time those who may have committed crimes can be arrested if they try to leave the country.
“I have decided that we should mobilise all the forces we have to enable the neutralisation of the terrorists and to put in place security in all areas that could be concerned.
“I have also asked for military reinforcements. They are at this moment in the Greater Paris area to ensure no further attack takes place.”
He spoke of his thoughts for the “very numerous victims, their families, the wounded” and appealed for compassion and solidarity.
France had to display “sang-froid” in responding to “terrorism”, the president said. “What the terrorists want is to scare us,” he added.
It emerged today that the German players slept in the Stade de France after the match before returning home directly. Security advisers had considered it too risky for the delegation to return to their hotel.