Terrorists struck multiple locations throughout the city of Paris this evening. As of this writing, many details are unclear. But several locations were attacked in a coordinated fashion and the death toll is greater than 100 people.
According to initial reports, dozens were killed at the Bataclan theater, where a band was playing. Terrorists laid siege to the concert hall, executing dozens of spectators until police raided the facility.
Other locations that were attacked include the Stade de France, where a soccer match was being played between France and Germany, and restaurants in the city. Dozens of people were reportedly killed at these locations.
French President François Hollande was evacuated from the soccer stadium. Some reports say that a suicide bomber was responsible for an explosion that occurred during the soccer match.
Paris was locked down and France temporarily closed its borders. The French military has been called in to provide assistance, according to multiple reports, and a mandatory curfew was put into effect.
The simultaneous attacks are similar to those that occurred in Mumbai in November 2008. Instead of targeting a handful of distinct sites, the Mumbai attackers struck throughout the city using military-style tactics. The terrorists in Mumbai, who were sent by Lashkar-e-Taiba, executed a well-planned assault that shut down much of the city, just like this evening in Paris.
The Paris attacks were likely not planned overnight. The attacks required planning, scouting, financing, training, and a support network to aid the fighters. According to French media reports, Kalashnikov rifles were used in at least some of the attacks. Unidentified explosives and possibly suicide vests were as well.
This is the second time this year that Paris has been hit with a major terrorist attack. In January, the Kouachi brothers systematically targeted the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine. The brothers said they were sent by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and the al Qaeda branch claimed responsibility. AQAP said the massacre at Charlie Hebdo was carried out under orders from Ayman al Zawahiri. A friend of the Kouachis, Ahmed Coulibaly, launched his own attacks at a Kosher market and elsewhere. But Coulibaly’s shootings were not planned by AQAP. Coulibaly swore allegiance to the Islamic State and said he was acting on behalf of the “caliphate.”
No group has claimed responsibility as of yet for tonight’s attacks, which were greater in scope than the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Supporters of the Islamic State launched a hashtag “Paris is burning” to celebrate the killings, but the organization has not officially claimed responsibility. An eyewitness interviewed on BFM TV in France said that one of the terrorists shouted, “Allah Akbar!” Other unconfirmed reports say that one of the attackers, who was apprehended, told authorities that he and others are affiliated with the Islamic State. One of the terrorists also reportedly said, “This is for Syria!”
Still, this does not yet amount to an official claim by the terror group.
“Once again we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians,” President Obama said in response to the terrorist operations in Paris. “This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”
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