Tuesday 25 October 2016

Paris Terror Attacks: Five arrested as Paris death toll rises to 129

Isil vows to bring Europe to its knees: 'Our wolves chose targets in the capital of adultery and vice'

Adam Cullen in Paris and Jerome Reilly

Published 15/11/2015 | 02:30

A girl holds a French flag during a vigil for the victims of the Paris attacks, outside the White House in Washington November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
A girl holds a French flag during a vigil for the victims of the Paris attacks, outside the White House in Washington November 14, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Atrocity: Medics evacuate an injured person on Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, close to the Bataclan theatre, yesterday morning after Paris was hit by multiple terrorist attacks
French fire brigade members aid an injured individual near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris
Paris terror attacks
Juliette Charton from Paris pictured at the Solidarity with Paris march through Dublin city centre
A woman weeps at a vigil held by the local French community in Sydney, as Australians express their solidarity with France

Belgian authorities have arrested five people during house searches in Brussels in connection with the deadly Paris attacks that left 129 people dead.

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Reuters are reporting that five people are now in custody following a series of raids on Saturday in the district of Molenbeek.

"There have been five arrests made linked to the attacks in Paris," said Francoise Schepmans, mayor of the Molenbeek in Brussels.

Prosecutors and government officials said they could not confirm the number of arrests, having said late on Saturday that the number of people detained was at least three.

French president Francois Hollande has vowed France will wage “merciless” war on the Islamic State group, after the jihadists claimed responsibility for the attacks which killed 129.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said three groups of attackers, including seven suicide bombers, carried out the “act of barbarism” that shattered a Parisian Friday night — the deadliest attacks in Euro  pe since the 2004 Madrid bombings that killed 191.

And last night the Belgian justice minister said a “number of” arrests had been made in Brussels relating to the Paris attacks.

Earlier today, the police reporter for the French newspaper Liberation reported that three people had been arrested in Brussels.

He added that there was the possibility that they were a “second team” that might hit Paris.

French and Belgian prosecutors said a car found near the concert venue in Paris, where the deadliest attack was carried out on Friday, had been hired in Belgium.

The full scale of Friday night’s atrocity became clear last night.

As well as the huge loss of life, 352 people are injured;  99 are in a critical condition.

One Irish man was shot and seriously injured during the rampage.

Prosecutors believe three teams of terrorists (eight in total) carried out co-ordinated attacks.

All seven suicide attackers wore identical explosives belts.

One of the suicide bombers at the Bataclan has been identified as a young Frenchman flagged in the past for links with Islamic extremist activity.

Suicide bombers who targeted the Stade de France were found to have Egyptian and Syrian passports.

One was reported to have had a ticket for the game and detonated his bomb after being stopped by security staff trying to enter the stadium.

The authorities in Athens said the holder of the Syrian passport had passed through Greece as a refugee while a second also crossed into France from Greece.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the worst attacks in France since World War II and one of the most deadly terrorist strikes on Western soil since September 11, 2001.

The group has said it sent fighters, identified on its social media channels as “wolves”,  to the French capital armed with Kalashnikovs and suicide bombing belts. 

Their aim was to bring Europe to its knees, attack the  Western way of life and to watch “Paris ignite”. 

It said in an online statement that it chose targets “in the capital of adultery and vice” and that it wanted to “watch the city burn”.

Eighty people were killed after gunmen burst into the Bataclan concert hall and took hostages before security forces stormed the hall. The attack on the 1,500-seat Bataclan hall was the deadliest attack

Gunmen opened fire on concert-goers watching US rock group Eagles of Death Metal. The event had been sold out.

People were shot dead at restaurants and bars at five other sites in Paris. They included La Belle Equipe, 92 rue de Charonne in the 11th district, where at  least 19 were killed dead in gun attacks involving  automatic weapons.

At the Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant at Rue Alibert in the 10th district, at least 12 died in a gun attack.

And at La Casa Nostra restaurant on  92 Rue de la Fontaine au Roi in the  11th district,  the terrorists mounted another attack, with  at least five dead.

At the Stade de France, St Denis, just north of Paris, three attackers blew themselves up with suicide  bombs.

At least 180 people were injured.

President Francois Hollande described the  co-ordinated onslaught as “a horror” and vowed to wage a “merciless” fight against terrorism.

Paris saw three days of attacks in early January, when Islamist gunmen murdered 18 people after attacking satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a Jewish supermarket and a policewoman on patrol.

All eight attackers died, seven in suicide blasts while the eighth — also wearing explosives — was shot by police, according to a senior European intelligence official familiar with the investigation speaking to the Washington Post.

It reported  that French officials have managed to recover fingerprints from at least four of the men, with French, German and other European law-enforcement agencies seeking possible matches.

Tanaiste Joan Burton said:  “We  have witnessed barbarity and savagery on the streets of Paris, the cold-blooded murder of innocent people.

“My first thoughts are of the victims who lost their lives and the families who lost loved ones, as well as all those injured or caught up in these horrific acts.

“My thoughts are with the people of France, who are grieving for the second time in just 11 months following the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo. But France and its people stood strong in January and they will do so again in the face of this horror.”

Asked about whether European governments, including Ireland’s, should now re-evaluate security arrangements, Ms Burton said: “Yes. I think it is essential that we understand that this is a direct attack on democracy in Europe. In attacking France, they attack everyone.”

The Irish Embassy in Paris is providing consular assistance to an Irish man who has undergone surgery for gunshot wounds sustained at the Bataclan venue.

He is said to be in a “serious but stable condition”.

The  Department’s Consular Response Centre is  in place to assist any families or citizens who have concerns.

The Response Centre can be contacted on 01 418 0200 or consular response@dfa.ie.

Primate of All Ireland  Archbishop  Eamon Martin   said: “These horrific events challenge us to pray and work even more earnestly for an end to the evil of terrorism everywhere.”

Irish Congress of Trade Unions  General Secretary Patricia King has also extended  condolences and sympathies to the grieving  families and communities.

Many of Paris’s top tourist attractions closed down Saturday, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and the Disneyland theme park east of the capital. Some 3,000 troops were deployed to help restore order and reassure a frightened populace while a curfew is also in place.

A tall 38-year-old concert-goer named Sylvain collapsed in tears as he described escaping from the chaos during a lull in gunfire.

“There were shots everywhere, in waves,” Sylvain told The Associated Press. “I lay down on the floor. I saw at least two shooters, but I heard others talk. They cried, ‘It’s Hollande’s fault.’ I heard one of the shooters shout, ‘Allahu Akbar.’”

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