At least 60 killed in Paris shootings, hostages held

President Hollande shuts borders, declares national state of emergency

Video: Reuters

France was rocked by multiple, near simultaneous attacks on entertainment sites around Paris this evening and French media said at least 60 people were killed and hostages were being held in a concert hall in the capital.

Meanwhile, shots are being heard live on Itele Television near Bataclan music hall.

In a brief statement on television French President Francois Hollande said a cabinet meeting had been called.

"A state of emergency will be declared," Hollande said. "The second measure will be the closure of national borders," he added.

The apparently coordinated gun and bomb attacks came as the country, a founder member of the US-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 that opens later this month.

Western security sources said they suspected an Islamist militant group was behind the carnage.

At least two explosions were heard near the Stade de France national stadium where a France-Germany friendly soccer match was being played, attended by Hollande.

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.

There were reports of possibly as many as four shootings in central Paris, one of which turned into a hostage taking at a popular rock music venue, witnessses said.

TF1 television said up to 35 people were dead near the soccer stadium, including two suspected suicide bombers in the attack in the neighbourhood of Saint Denis, north of central Paris.

Police helicopters circled the stadium as Hollande was rushed back to the interior ministry to deal with the situation. 

Police confirmed there had been shootings and explosions at the stadium, but not the number of casualties.

In central Paris, shooting erupted in mid-evening outside a Cambodian restaurant in the capital's 10th district and the Bataclan music hall, where bystanders were evacuated as elite police commandos took up position.

Several witnesses told television stations that up to 60 hostages were being held inside the popular concert venue.

"There are lots of people here. I don't know what's happening, a sobbing witness who gave her name only as Anna told BFM TV outside the Bataclan hall. "It's horrible. There's a body over there. It's horrible."

Elsewhere, police cordoned off a wide area around the Petit Cambodge restaurant where witnesses said gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles had fired at diners through the plate-glass windows, causing multiple casualties.

"I was on my way to my sister's when I heard shots being fired. Then I saw three people dead on the ground, I know they were dead because they were being wrapped up in plastic bags," student Fabien Baron told Reuters.

There were also reports of shootings in rue de Charonne in the 11th district and at the central Les Halles shoping centre.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Paris attacks, which 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 today, the United States and Britain said they had launched an attack in the Syrian town of Rakka on a British Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John" but it was not certain whether he had been killed.

Video: ReutersVideo: Reuters

President Barack Obama said the United States is “prepared and ready” to provide assistance to France, who he described as America’s “oldest ally”.

“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 we share,” he said.

“This is a heartbreaking situation.”

Could any Maltese persons currently in Paris contact us on [email protected]


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