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Death toll of Paris attacks rises to 132, officials claim alleged mastermind also identified

At least 132 people were killed and 352 wounded in yesterday’s deadly attacks, told a French prosecutor in a press conference on Saturday. Out of the 352 injured, 99 were said to be in precarious condition.

Paris city hall official said gunmen systematically slaughtered nearly 100 people attending a rock concert at the Bataclan music hall. Anti-terrorist commandos eventually launched an assault on the building, killed the gunmen and rescued dozens of shocked survivors.

Paris attacker linked to Belgian IS cell

One of the suicide bombers in the Paris attacks had links to a Belgian Islamic State militant believed to be the mastermind of a jihadist cell dismantled in January, a report said on Monday.

According to AFP, the name of Paris attacker Brahim Abdeslam appears in several police files alongside leading militant Abdelhamid Abaaoud relating to criminal cases in 2010 and 2011, Flemish-language newspaper De Standaard reported.

Abdul Hamid

“Investigators see a link with Verviers,” it said, referring to an eastern Belgian town where police shot dead two militants in January and broke up a cell aiming to kill Belgian police officers in the streets days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Belgian prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

Abaaoud — a 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent who allegedly led the group and had fought with the Islamic State group in Syria — remains at large. He has claimed in the IS English-language magazine Dabiq to have rejoined the group in Syria.

Both Abdeslam, a Belgium-based Frenchman who blew himself up outside a bar on Boulevard Voltaire, and Abaaoud lived in the Brussels district of Molenbeek which has a reputation as a hotbed of Islamic militancy.

Some 40 other people were killed in up to five other attacks in the Paris region, the city hall official said, including an apparent double suicide bombing outside the national stadium where Hollande and the German Foreign Minister were watching a friendly soccer international.

Paris Public Prosecutor Francois Molins said the overall death toll was at least 127. Five assailants had been “neutralised”.

The apparently coordinated assault came as France, a founder member of the U.S.-led coalition waging air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert for terrorist attacks ahead of a global climate conference due to open later this month.

After being whisked from the soccer stadium near the blasts, Hollande declared a nationwide state of emergency – the first in decades – and announced the closure of France’s borders to stop perpetrators escaping. The Paris metro railway was closed and schools, universities and municipal buildings were ordered to stay shut on Saturday. However some rail and air services are expected to run.

“This is a horror,” the visibly shaken president said in a midnight television address to the nation before chairing an emergency cabinet meeting.

He later went to the scene of the bloodiest attack, the Bataclan music hall, and vowed that the government would wage a “merciless” fight against terrorism.

All emergency services were mobilised, police leave was cancelled, 1,500 army reinforcements were drafted into the Paris region and hospitals recalled staff to cope with the casualties.

It was unclear whether any gunmen were still on the loose.

Radio stations broadcast warnings to Parisians to stay home and leave the streets and urged residents to give shelter to anyone caught out in the street.

The deadliest attack was on the Bataclan, a popular concert venue where the Californian rock group Eagles of Death Metal was performing. The concert hall is just a few hundred metres from the former offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which was the target of a deadly attack by Islamist gunmen in January.

Witnesses in the hall heard the gunmen shout Islamic slogans and slogans condemning France’s role in Syria.

“We know where these attacks come from,” Hollande said, without naming any individual group. “There are indeed good reasons to be afraid.”

Foreign victims of Paris bloodbath

Several foreigners have been identified among the victims of Friday’s attacks inParis, which left at least 132 dead and more than 350 injured.

The following is a breakdown of foreign fatalities according to official sources and media reports:

ALGERIA: Two Algerians were killed, the official APS news agency said, citing diplomatic sources. The victims were a woman aged 40 and a man aged 29.

BELGIUM: At least three Belgians including a dual French national were killed, according to the Belgian foreign ministry. Press reports said they included Elif Dogan, 26, and Milko Jozic, 47, who had been living in Paris for four months. The third victim was reported to be 28 and also had French nationality.

BRITAIN: Nick Alexander, 36, was killed at the Bataclan concert hall, his family said. Alexander sold merchandise for bands, including Eagles of Death Metal, who were playing at the time of the attack.

The Foreign Office said a “handful” of other Britons were feared dead.

CHILE: Three Chileans were killed in the attacks: Patricia San Martin, 55, the niece of Chile’s ambassador to Mexico and her daughter Elsa Delplace as well as Luis Felipe Zschoche Valle, a musician, according to Chile’s foreign ministry.

GERMANY: Germany’s foreign ministry said one of its citizens was killed, without giving further details.

ITALY: Valeria Solesin, 28, from Venice, was killed outside the Bataclan concert hall, her family said. The student’s body was identified by her brother.

MEXICO: Two people holding dual Mexican nationality were killed, the foreign ministry said. One was Michelle Gil Jaimes, also a Spanish national, the governor of her home state of Veracruz in eastern Mexico confirmed.

The other was US citizen Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, an industrial design student at California State University.

MOROCCO: One Moroccan was killed and another injured, according to the embassy in France.

PORTUGAL: Two Portuguese nationals are reported to have died, according to the government. One of them, Manuel Dias, 63, was a driver and had just dropped off three passengers near the Stade de France, where he was killed.

The other, Precilia Correia, 35, worked at the French electronics store FNAC inParis and was killed at the Bataclan, where she had gone with her French boyfriend, who also killed. Born in France to a Portuguese father and French mother, she had dual nationality.

ROMANIA: Two Romanians were killed, according to the foreign ministry, which only gave their first names: Ciprian, 32, and Lacramioara, 29. They were celebrating a birthday party at the Belle Equipe bistro and had an 18-month-old child.

SPAIN: Spanish authorities said 29-year-old Juan Alberto Gonzalez Garrido was killed at the Bataclan theatre. Spain’s El Mundo newspaper said he was with his wife, who had managed to escape. The couple had married in the summer.

Spanish press reports also said Jorge Alonso de Celada was killed at a restaurant and Alberto Pardo Touceda died in the concert attack.

SWEDEN: One Swedish national was likely killed and another wounded by gunfire, according to the foreign ministry, which said it was still verifying the information.

TUNISIA: Two young Tunisian sisters who lived in the French region of Creusotwere killed while celebrating a friend’s birthday in Paris, according to the Tunisian foreign ministry.

UNITED STATES: See dual national Nohemi Gonzalez in Mexico section.

Other US citizens and a Swiss woman are reported to be injured, while two Brazilians were wounded in the attacks, President Dilma Rousseff said.

French police carried out 170 raids since Paris attacks: minister

French police carried out nearly 170 searches and arrested 23 people in raids overnight Sunday in the wake of the attacks on Paris and more than 100 people have been placed under house arrest, the interior minister said.

A total of 31 weapons were seized, Bernard Cazeneuve added, with sources telling AFP they included a rocket launcher and a Kalashnikov rifle found near the southeast city of Lyon.

At least six French suicide bombers in Paris attacks: prosecutor

It is now known that at least three French suicide bombers were involved in the deadly attacks on Paris, which killed 132, the city prosecutor said on Sunday.

Two of them were living in the Belgian capital Brussels, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said in a statement.

He said one of them was a 20-year-old man who blew himself up near to the French national stadium, while the second, a 31-year-old man, detonated his explosives belt at a bar on the bustling Boulevard Voltaire.

Police had on Saturday identified the first of the attackers, naming him as 29-year-old Paris native Omar Ismail Mostefai and saying he was involved in the attack on the Bataclan music venue where 89 people were killed.

Mostefai, whose identity was confirmed using a severed fingertip, was known to the intelligence services as someone close to radical Islam, but he had never been linked to terrorism.

The names of the four attackers are Ismael Omar Mostefai, brothers Ibrahim and Salah Abdeslam and Bilal Hadfi.

Brahim Abdeslam appears in several police files alongside leading militant Abdelhamid Abaaoud relating to criminal cases in 2010 and 2011, Flemish-language newspaper De Standaard reported.

“Investigators see a link with Verviers,” it said, referring to an eastern Belgian town where police shot dead two militants in January and broke up a cell aiming to kill Belgian police officers in the streets days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Belgian prosecutors were not immediately available for comment.

Abaaoud — a 27-year-old Belgian of Moroccan descent who allegedly led the group and had fought with the Islamic State group in Syria — remains at large. He has claimed in the IS English-language magazine Dabiq to have rejoined the group in Syria.

Both Abdeslam, a Belgium-based Frenchman who blew himself up outside a bar on Boulevard Voltaire, and Abaaoud lived in the Brussels district of Molenbeek which has a reputation as a hotbed of Islamic militancy.

French police have launched an international manhunt for Abdeslam’s Brussels-born brother Salah, who is also said to be linked to the Paris attacks.

On their Twitter feed the police said they were also seeking a Belgian-born man, Abdeslam Salah in connection with the attack, describing him “dangerous”.

French prosecutors said Monday they had identified two more attackers involved in the bloody assault on Paris, including one previously charged in a “terrorist” case.

The 28-year-old Samy Amimour was involved in the massacre of 89 people in the Bataclan concert hall, they said.

The second was carrying a Syrian passport in the name of Ahmad Al Mohammad, although authorities said the authenticity of the document had yet to be verified.

Islamic State group claims Paris attacks

The Islamic State group claimed gun and bomb attacks that left more than 120 people dead in Paris in a statement posted online on Saturday.

It said “eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles” conducted a “blessed attack on… Crusader France.”

The statement, published in both Arabic and French, threatened further attacks against France “as long as it continues its Crusader campaign.”

Paris stocks sink after terror attacks

The Paris stock market sank on Monday in the first trading since devastating terror attacks on the French capital, with travel and leisure companies hit by demand worries, dealers said.

In opening deals, the CAC 40 index of top French companies dived 1.1 percent to 4,756.92 points, before pulling back slightly.

Frankfurt’s DAX 30 slid 0.93 percent to open at 10,609.14 points compared with Friday’s close.

In initial deals, London’s FTSE 100 fell 0.61 percent to 6,080.83 points.

Palestinian groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad condemn Paris attacks

Two Palestinian Islamist groups on Saturday condemned the Paris attacks that killed at least 128 people, officials in both organisations said.

Senior figures in both Hamas, considered by the US and EU to be a “terrorist” group, and Islamic Jihad criticised the killings that rocked the French capital late Friday.

Dr Bassem Naim, head of the Council of International Relations for Hamas, told AFP the group condemned “the acts of aggression and barbarity”, while Islamic Jihad condemned “a crime against innocents”.

Eiffel Tower closed indefinitely after Paris attacks

The Eiffel Tower will be closed indefinitely following the wave of deadly attacks in Paris, the iconic landmark’s operator said on Saturday.

The company decided to close the monument — normally visited by up to 20,000 people a day — after Friday’s attacks which claimed at least 128 lives, a spokeswoman told AFP. It will remain closed “until further notice,” she added.

France boosts protection of embassies, buildings abroad

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Saturday security had been stepped up at French embassies and official buildings worldwide after attacks in Paris claimed by the Islamic State group that left nearly 132 dead.

“I have taken measures on an international level so that all of our property, that is embassies, consulates, cultural institutes, high schools, be more protected,” Fabius said as he left Syria talks in Vienna early to return to deal with the crisis in his traumatized country.

French seek friends, shelter on social media after Paris attacks

French people took to social media to find friends and relatives, search for shelter and tell the world they were safe on Saturday, after a wave of attacks across Paris left 127 people dead.

Internet users posted poignant appeals on Twitter to find their loved ones who had been at the scenes of the bloodshed, including at the Stade de France stadium and a rock gig at the Bataclan theatre.

“If anyone has news of Lola, aged 17, at #Bataclan this evening, contact us,” read one post, while another expressed concern for a friend Thibault, who was also at the concert. “He’s not getting back to me: help me”, it read.

Other Twitter feeds remained ominously silent after announcing the start of the concert at the Bataclan concert hall, where at least 82 people were later killed by gunmen wielding AK47s.

Eight attackers struck numerous locations around the capital, leaving at least 120 people dead on Friday night, the bloodiest such incident in Europe for more than a decade.

Thousands of Parisians used the hashtag #PorteOuverte (open door) to organise places to stay for people who had been left stranded — particularly in areas that had been attacked.

The hashtag was re-posted 480,000 times as the hours passed with the city on lock down, making it the second-most used keyword on Twitter in France after #fusillade (shooting) which was used 700,000 times.

“If people are stranded, I can accommodate two of three people on Rue des Martyrs,” offered one user, while WroteGabDeLioncourt said: “Our sofa is always available for two/three people in Maraichers”.

Others set up an emergency website “porteouverte.eu” to help people find temporary shelter.

Meanwhile, Facebook launched a “Paris Terror Attacks” check-in feature to let people signal whether they were out of harm’s way, then notify their connections on the social networking site.

“Quickly find and connect with friends in the area,” a message from the Facebook Safety Check service read. “Mark them safe if you know they’re OK.”

The feature also allowed people to check which friends listed as being in Paris had not yet checked in as safe.

“We are shocked and saddened by the events unfolding in Paris,” a Facebook spokesman told AFP.

“Communication is critical in these moments both for people there and for their friends and families anxious for news.”

Pakistan Condemns Terrorist Attacks in Paris

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif denounced the terror attacks in the French capital and said that the country stands with the French people and government in this time of grief.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry expressed grief on the attacks in Paris

The ministry, in its press release, stated that the people and Government of Pakistan strongly condemn deadly terrorist attacks in Paris that have resulted in the loss of more than 100 precious lives and injuries to scores of people

The people and Government of Pakistan wish to convey their heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the bereaved families and the people and Government of France. We stand with them in their hour of grief. We pray for speedy recovery of the injured.

Pakistan reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Pakistan’s ambassador to France Ghalib Iqbal, speaking to ARY News, said that all Pakistanis are safe.

Chairman Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris and expreesed sympathies and solidarity with the victims and the people of France and assured them that Pakistani nation stand with them in this hour of pain.

Leader of Pakistan’s right wing political party Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman said that the acts are condemnable but also that Europe should think hard of the consequences of the fires that it has lit across the world in the last 15 years. He said that the flames from such fires had now reached Europe’s shores.

Alliance Francaise de Karachi announced that the center will remain closed for three days due to the terrorist attacks in Paris and the three mourning days decided by the Government of France.

The centre announced that no activities will be held during the three days whereas the exhibition named “Kaghazi hey perahan har pekar e tasvir ka”, scheduled for today, has been postponed till 21st November.

Citizens of Karachi also protested against the attacks at Teen Talwar area.

Belgium urges citizens to avoid Paris

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Saturday urged his fellow citizens to avoid travel to Paris following the attacks that left at least 132 people dead.

Michel, speaking live on RTBF television, issued “a message to our citizens by asking them to avoid travelling to Paris if it is not strictly necessary.”

A spokesman for the prime minister told AFP the security measure would be effective at least through the weekend.

Read More: World leaders denounce deadly Paris attacks

Sporting fixtures in Paris area cancelled after attacks: officials

All sporting fixtures in the Paris area this weekend have been cancelled after the terror attacks that left at least 127 people dead, local authorities said.

The message was passed to the heads of sports federations as the French capital reeled from an unprecedented series of shootings and bombings, including suicide attacks outside the Stade de France national stadium while France were playing Germany in an international football match.

Attackers were ‘terrorists who have hijacked religion for nefarious gains’: Piers Morgan

British television star Piers Morgan termed Paris attackers as “terrorists who’ve hijacked a religion for nefarious gain”.

In his tweet, Morgan stated that these murderers aren’t refugees nor are they real Muslims. They’re terrorists who’ve hijacked a religion for nefarious gains.


France has been on high alert ever since the attacks on Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a Kosher supermarket in Paris in January killed 18 people.

Hollande cancelled plans to travel to Turkey at the weekend for a G20 summit. He called an emergency meeting of his national security council for 9 a.m. (0800 GMT) on Saturday.

U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel led a global chorus of solidarity with France and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the “despicable attacks” and demanded the release of the hostages.

Julien Pearce, a journalist from Europe 1 radio, was inside the concert hall when the shooting began. In an eyewitness report posted on the station’s website, Pearce said several very young individuals, who were not wearing masks, entered the hall while the concert was under way armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and started “blindly shooting at the crowd”.

“There were bodies everywhere,” he said.

Toon, a 22 year-old messenger, who lives near the Bataclan was going into the concert hall with two friends at around 10.30 p.m.(2130 GMT) when he saw three young men dressed in black and armed with machine guns. He stayed outside. One of the gunmen began firing into the crowd. “People were falling like dominos,” he told Reuters.

He said he saw people shot in the leg, shoulder, back and several people lying on the floor apparently dead. There was no immediate verifiable claim of responsibility but supporters of the Islamic State militant group which controls swathes of Iraq and Syria said in Twitter messages that the group carried them out.

“The State of the caliphate hit the house of the cross,” one tweet said. Two explosions were heard near the Stade de France in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis, where the France-Germany friendly soccer match was being played.

A witness said one of the detonations blew people into the air outside a McDonald’s restaurant opposite the stadium. The match continued until the end but panic broke out in the crowd as rumours of the attack spread, and spectators were held in the stadium and assembled spontaneously on the pitch.

Police helicopters circled the stadium as Hollande was rushed back to the interior ministry to deal with the situation. In central Paris, shooting erupted in mid-evening outside a Cambodian restaurant in the capital’s 10th district.

Eighteen people were killed when a gunman opened fire on Friday night diners sitting at outdoor terraces in the popular Charonne area nearby in the 11th district. Police appeared to be still searching for suspects later.

There were also unconfirmed reports of shooting in other locations, including the central Les Halles shopping centre. The Paris carnage came within days of attacks claimed by Islamic State militants on a Shi’ite Muslim district of southern Beirut in Lebanon, and a Russian tourist aircraft which crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Earlier on Friday, the United States and Britain said they had launched an attack in the Syrian town of Raqqa on a British Islamic State militant known as “Jihadi John” but it was not certain whether he had been killed.

Witnesses tell of ‘bloodbath’ at Paris rock concert

Terrified survivors from the Paris concert hall targeted during Friday’s attacks have described running over bodies and hiding after gunmen stormed the venue and began executing rock fans with barrages of automatic gunfire.

Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter, was sitting in the balcony with his sister and friends when they heard shots from below about one hour into the concert by US rock band Eagles of Death Metal. “At first we thought it was part of the show but we quickly understood,” he told AFP.

“They didn’t stop firing. There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. We heard screaming. Everyone was trying to flee.”

Janaszak and his friends hid in a toilet where they would spend the next two hours waiting for police to storm the building and rescue the survivors.

Around 80 people are believed to have died in the assault. “They had 20 hostages, and we could hear them talking with them,” said Janaszak.

“I clearly heard them say ‘It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria’. They also spoke about Iraq.”

Iran’s Rouhani postpones Europe trip after Paris attacks

Hassan Rouhani on Saturday postponed what would have been the first visit to Europe by an Iranian president in 10 years after attacks in Paris that he described as “crimes against humanity.”

Rouhani had been due to hold talks in Rome on Saturday with Pope Francis as well as Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi before travelling on to the French capital.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had been due to travel with Rouhani, told state television he would now instead head Iran’s delegation to international talks on the Syrian conflict in Vienna. Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian had been due to lead the Iranian team.

A Paris city hall official said gunmen systematically slaughtered nearly 100 people attending a rock concert at the Bataclan music hall.

Anti-terrorist commandos eventually launched an assault on the building, killed the gunmen and rescued dozens of shocked survivors.

Rouhani sent a message of condolence to French counterpart Francois Hollande on the shootings and bombings in Paris that left more than 120 people dead, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.

“In the name of the Iranian people, who have themselves been victims of terrorism, I strongly condemn these crimes against humanity and offer my condolences to the grieving French people and government,” Rouhani said.

Zarif said the Paris attacks made the Vienna talks all the more important as world governments needed to work together to fight against the Islamic State group and other extremists.

“We must use the opportunity presented by these crimes to coordinate internationally,” he said.

“The Paris events show once again that terrorism and extremism are an international threat and that international cooperation is necessary to fight this phenomenon.” Iran is, with Russia, a key backer of the Syrian regime not only against IS but also against other rebel groups.

It is also a major supporter of Iraq in its war against the jihadists independently of the US-led coalition.

New York, other U.S. cities beef up security after Paris attacks

New York, Boston and other cities in the United States bolstered security on Friday night after deadly gun and bomb attacks on civilians in Paris, but law enforcement officials said the beefed-up police presence was precautionary rather than a response to any specific threats.

The New York Police Department said officers from its Counterterrorism Response Command and other special units were deployed in areas frequented by tourists, and at the French Consulate in Manhattan.

“Teams have been dispatched to crowded areas around the city out of an abundance of caution to provide police presence and public reassurance as we follow the developing situation overseas,” the NYPD said in a statement.

New York, the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the World Trade Center’s twin towers, is considered a top target for potential attacks by Islamist militants. The top of the Empire State Building and the spire at One World Trade Center were lit up Friday night with blue, white and red, the colors of the French flag.

The nearly simultaneous gun and bomb attacks in Paris killed at least 120 people in various places across the French capital and wounded many others The NYPD did not say how many extra officers were sent to guard the areas of concern nor did it specify the areas where the extra officers were sent.

“Every time we see an attack like this, it is a reminder to be prepared, to be vigilant,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told ABC 7 television.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he directed state law enforcement officials to monitor the Paris situation for any implications for New York state and to remain in constant communication with their local and federal partners.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said police were on heightened alert at all of the agency’s bridges, tunnels and rail facilities, as well as at the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. It said it was increasing patrols and checking of buses and trains and passengers’ bags.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement that “we know of no specific or credible threats of an attack on the U.S. homeland of the type that occurred in Paris tonight.”

The National Basketball Association, which had 11 games on the schedule Friday night, said it was increasing security at each of the venues. The most popular sport, American football, would not have any games until Sunday as previously scheduled. “Security at our games is always at a heightened state of alert,” National Football League spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

Outside of New York, law enforcement and transportation agencies said they were also on high alert. The U.S. Capitol Police in Washington boosted patrols around the Capitol complex, a spokeswoman said.

“There is currently no known threat to the Capitol Complex,” she said in an email. The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington haddeployed additional law enforcement resources to French-owned sites and other high-profile locations as a precaution, said Officer Sean Hickman.

Hickman said there was no known imminent threat.

In Boston, the police department said it deployed additional resources and was working closely with federal authorities but saw no credible threat in the city, where Islamist militant sympathizers set off home-made bombs at the Boston Marathon finish line in April 2013.

Massachusetts State Police said they took “several actions”, including bolstering security around the State House in Boston.

The Boston Police Department said in a statement that it was encouraging officers to remain vigilant as they conduct patrols.

The St. Louis Police Department said it added an extra layer of security for the World Cup soccer qualifying match between the United States and St. Vincent on Friday night. Chicago police said they were following developments in France to determine whether to bolster city security but was not aware of any immediate threats.

“Tonight the City of Chicago stands shoulder to shoulder with the City of Paris in the wake of today’s despicable and horrifying attacks,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. San Francisco police officers have been told to maintain high visibility and increase patrols in areas of high public traffic, such as bus and train stations, said Sgt. Michael Andraychak.

Police have been in contact with the French Consulate and are working to address any security concerns it may have.

In Pittsburgh, which was hosting a National Hockey League game on Friday, a police spokeswoman said public safety personnel were working with intelligence authorities to identify any indications of local threats. Amtrak, the U.S. passenger train service, said it was monitoring the events in Paris but said there were no specific or credible threats against the railway.



AFP adds

Simultaneous attacks on multiple targets by gunmen and suicide bombers working in unison: a nightmare scenario that France’s anti-terror agencies had dreaded for months came true in Paris on Friday night.

Security officials and experts have predicted that an unprecedented attack was in the offing, and would be nigh impossible to thwart.

“Determined guys who are prepared to die, who have studied their target and have a solid operational background, they can do a lot of damage,” Yves Trotignon, who used to work for DGSE intelligence agency’s anti-terrorist service, recently told AFP.

“More jihadist fighters are graduating as veterans every day. Faced with that, it has to be said, the (security) services are overwhelmed,” he said.

Eight assailants — a mix of gunmen and suicide bombers — killed more than 120 people and wounded over 200 in attacks at seven popular Parisian recreational spots overnight Friday.

Targets included the Bataclan concert hall and eateries around the Stade de France sports stadium where a France-Germany football match was underway.

Also hit was a restaurant in a vibey Parisian suburb near Republique square, not far from the erstwhile offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine where 12 people were mowed down in January.

The events of Friday were exactly the kind of multi-pronged attack authorities had been dreading.

So far this year they have been fortunate: more than one potential bloodbath was prevented by the offender’s own ineptitude.

In April, Algerian IT student Sid Ahmed Ghlam was arrested after he shot himself in the leg by accident, leading police to uncover a plot to attack a church in Paris’ Villejuif suburb.

– Battle-hardened and trained –

And in August, two off-duty US servicemen and a friend overpowered a gunman who opened fire on passengers on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris.

But the authorities’ luck was bound to run out as radicalised Muslims return from warzones battle-hardened and well-trained, said the experts.

And they are coming home in such great numbers that it is impossible to keep tabs on them all.

“The risk is greatest from groups of young men who return hardened from conflicts, maybe in Syria, maybe Libya or Yemen, then obtain weapons here (in France) and go over into action,” Trotignon said.

Since the January slaying of 17 people in joint attacks on Charlie Hebdo, known for its satirical caricatures of Islam, and a Jewish supermarket elsewhere in Paris, anti-terror, intelligence, police and rescue services have been rehearsing for another such multi-pronged assault.

Like anti-terror services the world over, French experts closely studied the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, in which 10 attackers struck five different spots in concert, killing about 170 people.

But plan as they like, the experts agree there will always be an element of surprise.

And things have become complicated by wall-to-wall media coverage — with attackers nowadays positioning themselves “for maximum publicity”, a senior anti-terror official recently told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“Right now, we fear kalashnikov attacks” — exactly like the one on the Bataclan theatre which ended when police stormed the building, but only after 100 people were killed.



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