A night of terror ended in Paris with six different attacks carried out on at least two restaurants, the French national soccer stadium and at a crowded theater.
At least 129 Parisians are confirmed dead and 352 injured. Suicide bombings rocked the stadium as a match was being played between France and Germany. Multiple shootings took place at restaurants including one involving hostage taking.
Coordinated attacks came with blitzkrieg speed at six or seven locations in Paris. All of the attackers ended up detonating suicide belts, according to reports. At least one attacker was said to have been carrying a Syrian passport, and a second terrorist has been confirmed as being from Syria. A Greek journalist reported on Twitter that the Syrian passport-holder entered France through Greece last month as a “refugee.”
Authorities are telling residents to stay inside their homes as an unknown number of gunmen are being hunted throughout the city in what appears to be a major coordinated terrorist attack.
France also announced it was closing its borders tonight and declaring a state of emergency. The borders have been open and welcoming of new refugees streaming in from the Middle East and Africa.
French police were not saying who is responsible for the attacks, but ISIS operatives applauded the attack on Twitter immediately and later claimed responsibility.
President Obama denounced the attacks as an “outrageous act of terrorism” but did not mention the word “Islam” or “Islamic terrorism.”
At the French national stadium, where a game was in progress between France and Germany attended by French President Francois Hollande, a series of at least three explosions were reported either inside the stadium or directly outside. Hollande was whisked away and taken to a safe place.
The most disturbing ongoing situation were reports of up to 60 people being held hostage at a theater in the city’s glitzy 11th district. An American rock band, Eagles of Death Metal, was performing. Men stormed in with AK-47s and fired randomly into the crowd. The shooting lasted for 10 minutes, a witness named Julian Pierce, told CNN. The shooters were masked and wearing black clothes. People scrambled to the floor, and some tried to escape. He said he saw 20 to 25 bodies lying on the floor. He took a small teenage girl and he ran with her outside to a cab driver who he asked to take the girl to a hospital.
“This is extremely disturbing. We have some kind of terrorist event unfolding in Paris,” said Paul Cruickshank, senior terrorism analyst for CNN.
Automatic Kalashnikov weapons were used in the restaurant attacks.
“A report of grenades or some kind of explosions, gunmen on the loose. People trained with ISIS are skilled with killing people with these kind of weapons.”
More than 6,000 men have left Europe to join ISIS over the past couple of years, and around 1,500 of them have returned highly trained in terror attacks. That has put French security forces under extreme pressure, as they are unable to keep up with all of the threats.
An ISIS operative said in February that at least 4,000 trained ISIS fighters were in Europe, waiting for orders to attack. The operative told BuzzFeed that the 4,000 terrorists entered through the refugee ranks pouring into Europe by the thousands every day
More than 1,000 French nationals alone have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS.
At least 250 have come back, and every week new information is coming in to police about potential attacks, including one foiled against an aircraft carrier.
In January the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine killed more than a dozen.
Another plot in April to attack churches in Paris was foiled, CNN reported. ISIS persuaded a student to launch that, but it was thwarted.
“Every week threats are coming in. The scale of the threat is unprecedented right now in Paris so we think about Islamic terrorism and we think about ISIS,” Cruickshank said. “They have released videos threatening attacks.”
In August three Americans prevented a bloodbath on a Paris subway when a young Muslim man pulled out a gun and prepared to slaughter everyone on the train. He was also inspired by ISIS.
Just last week in the United States, 18-year-old Faisal Mohammad was shot and killed by police after he went on a stabbing spree on the campus of U.C.-Merced. He was later found to have had an Islamic State flag in his possession.
“This is the nightmare scenario everyone feared was unfolding right now in Paris,” Cruickshank told CNN. “The loss of life is horrific and these are people showing no mercy, and they want to die themselves.”
A man entered a restaurant in the 10th district in eastern Paris and opened fire.
The same happened at another bar or restaurant in the 11th district.
Also in the 10th district, the theater was attacked and customers held hostage.
Police with guns were hiding behind vans.
There were about six to eight attackers on the theater or concert hall.
The sheer number of attackers makes this attack far more complex and larger in scope than the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January.
“It almost looked like a movie setting — it didn’t seem real,” witness Seth Porges told CNN.
“People were standing on benches taking pictures. Nobody I don’t think was clear on what was happening. People were talking, and then a series of five or six shots. It happened about ten seconds before I stepped outside.”