Hollande blames Islamic State for ‘act of war’

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The near-simultaneous attacks in Paris that killed at least 128 people were an “act of war” organised by the Islamic State (IS) militant group, French President Francois Hollande says.

He said the attacks, carried out by eight gunmen and suicide bombers, were “organised and planned from outside”.

The targets included bars, restaurants, a concert and a high-profile football match. IS claimed the attacks.

Hollande has declared three days of national mourning and raised the security threat level to its highest point and imposed a nationwide state of emergency.

Hospital officials now put the number of injured at 300. Eighty are in a critical condition.

These are the deadliest attacks in peacetime France, and only the fourth time since WW2 that a state of emergency has been imposed.

The last time was during a 2005 wave of riots in poor suburbs.
It is the worst atrocity in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings.

The night of violence unfolded soon after 21:00 (20:00 GMT) as people were enjoying a Friday night out in the French capital.

A gunman opened fire on Le Carillon bar in the rue Alibert, not far from the Place de la Republique, before heading across the road to Le Petit Cambodge (Little Cambodia), killing at least 12 people.

“We heard the sound of guns, 30-second bursts. It was endless. We thought it was fireworks,” Pierre Montfort, a resident living close to Le Petit Cambodge, said.

A few streets away, diners sitting on the terrace of La Casa Nostra pizzeria in rue de la Fontaine au Roi, were also fired on, with the loss of at least five lives.

At around the same time, on the northern outskirts of Paris, 80,000 people who had gathered to watch France play Germany at the Stade de France heard three explosions outside the stadium.

President Hollande was among the spectators and was whisked to safety after the first explosion. It later emerged three suicide bombers blew themselves up at fast food outlets and a brasserie near the stadium.

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