The Latest: France launches ‘massive’ airstrikes in Syria

November 13, 2015
PARIS (AP) — The latest on shootings and explosions in Paris. (All times local):

Victims of a shooting attack lay on the pavement outside La Belle Equipe restaurant in Paris Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in Paris on Friday night in a series of shooting, explosions. (Anne Sophie Chaisemartin via AP)

Victims of a shooting attack lay on the pavement outside La Belle Equipe restaurant in Paris Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Well over 100 people were killed in Paris on Friday night in a series of shooting, explosions. (Anne Sophie Chaisemartin via AP)

10:15 p.m.

A French defense official says the country has launched a “massive” series of airstrikes on the Islamic State group’s de facto capital in Syria, destroying a jihadi training camp and a munitions dump.

The ministry spokesman said Sunday that the strikes on Raqqa involved 12 aircraft, including 10 fighter jets, and 20 bombs were dropped.

The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

–By Philippe Soto.

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8:30 a.m.

French officials have identified one of the Paris attackers as Ismael Mostefai, a 29-year-old Frenchman who had been flagged for links to Islamic radicalism.

A French judicial official says Mostefai’s father, a brother and other family members have been detained and are being questioned Sunday.

The mayor of the French city of Chartres, Jean-Pierre Gorges, identified Mostefai as a resident in a Facebook post. The judicial official confirmed the name, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

The Paris prosecutor said one of the attackers was a 29-year-old Frenchman born in the Chartres region who had been known to authorities for radicalism. The prosecutor said he was identified by fingerprints on a finger found in the carnage of the Paris attacks Friday night, which left at least 129 dead and hundreds wounded.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

— Angela Charlton in Paris.

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7:25 a.m.

Around 100 Iranians held a candlelight vigil in front of the French Embassy in Tehran to mourn the victims of the Paris attacks.

The gathering late Saturday was reported by the Shargh daily, a reformist newspaper. The paper reported Sunday that some of those gathered had posted hand-written messages of condolence on nearby walls.

The attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people and were claimed by the Islamic State group, have been condemned by political and religious leaders across the Muslim world. Iran has provided training and other support to forces battling the extremist group in neighboring Iraq.

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9 a.m.

Some 1,500 extra soldiers have been mobilized to guard French facilities and schools and universities are closed because of the country’s deadliest attacks in decades.

Many French schools are normally open on Saturdays, but the French government ordered them shuttered as part of emergency security measures.

Soldiers were deployed at key sites around Paris, including Parliament buildings and religious sites.

The government has also reimposed border controls that were abandoned as part of Europe’s free-travel zone. Border and customs officers will check people, baggage and vehicles entering and leaving France by road, train, sea or plane, said customs official Melanie Lacuire.

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8:50 a.m.

Germany has offered France the help of its special anti-terror unit in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas des Maiziere said in a statement Saturday that he is in touch with his French counterpart “and I have offered him the help of German special forces.”

Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate said de Maiziere had offered “all support, including special forces such as the GSG9.”

The GSG9 anti-terror unit was created after the attacks on the Munich Olympics in 1972 and saw its first major operation during the hijacking of a Lufthansa plane by a Palestinian group

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2:39 a.m.

French police say they believe all of the attackers involved shootings and bombings in Paris are dead.

Micheal Cadot, the head of Paris police said Saturday that while all of the attackers are believed to have died, authorities are searching for possible accomplices in the attacks that left over 120 people dead.

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Rescue workers gather at victims in the 10th district of Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented attacks around Paris on Friday, French President Francois Hollande said, announcing that he was closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

Rescue workers gather at victims in the 10th district of Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

2:16 a.m.

The Paris police prefect said the attackers at the Bataclan rock venue blew themselves up with suicide belts as police closed in, killing four people. He said the gunmen first sprayed cafes outside the venue with machine gunfire, then went inside the concert hall and killed more before the assaullt by security forces.

The prefect, Michel Cadot, said the one set of attackers was at the stadium and at nearly the same time the second group attacked within the city.

Cadot said all the attackers are believed dead, although authorites are hunting for any possible accomplices.

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1:25 a.m.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins says the death toll in attacks at six sites around the French capital could exceed 120.

Speaking near a popular music venue where scores of people were taken hostage, Molins said early Saturday that five attackers may have been killed.

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12:55 a.m.

Management for rock band Eagles of Death Metal, who were scheduled to perform Friday at a venue in Paris where hostages were taken and scores were killed say they are “trying to determine the safety and whereabouts” of the band and its crew.

The American band was supposed to perform at the Bataclan, a theater located in eastern Paris. The band, formed in 1998 in Palm Desert, California, was celebrating the October release of “Zipper Metal” with an European tour.

Police officials who were not authorized to be named said at least 100 people died at the Bataclan Friday, and that a police assault left at least two attackers dead.

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12:45 a.m.

Twitter accounts linked to jihadists are celebrating the attacks in Paris.

According to the SITE Intelligence Group tracking militant sites, Twitter posts attributed to jihadist supporters are speculating which group may be responsible. Many users expressed belief that the Islamic Group could be behind the carnage.

They used Arabic-language hashtags that translated to “Paris on fire” and “Caliphate state strikes France.”

SITE says that accounts also circulated pictures of the attacks, and one pro-IS channel accused France of sending warplanes to bomb Syria and says “today it drinks from the same cup.”

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12:25 a.m.

A French police official says top government officials including President Francois Hollande were headed to the Bataclan concert hall where hostages were taken.

Another official said at least 100 people died inside the hall. A police assault on the venue finished early Saturday, leaving at least two attackers dead, officials said.

The officials were not authorized to be named because operations were ongoing.

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Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer match between France and Germany in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Hundreds of people spilled onto the field of the Stade de France stadium after explosions were heard nearby during a friendly match between the French and German national soccer teams. French President Francois Hollande says he is closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency after several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Spectators invade the pitch of the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer match between France and Germany in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Hundreds of people spilled onto the field of the Stade de France stadium after explosions were heard nearby during a friendly match between the French and German national soccer teams. French President Francois Hollande says he is closing the country’s borders and declaring a state of emergency after several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented terrorist attacks. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

12:20 a.m.

A French police official says at least 100 people have been killed inside a Paris concert hall where attackers seized hostages. The hostage-taking was one in a series of at least six attacks across the French capital.

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12:10 a.m.

A French government official says the country’s state of emergency has gone into effect and that President Francois Hollande is cancelling his trip to the G-20 meeting in Turkey.

Hollande was due to leave Saturday for the meeting in Turkey, which was to focus in large part on growing fears of terrorism carried out by Islamic extremists.

The official, who was not authorized to be named, said the government will hold a defense council meeting in the morning.

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12 a.m.

Two Paris police officials say security forces have ended their assault on a concert hall filled with hostages, killing at least two attackers. Neither official could be named, citing ongoing operations throughout the city.

One official described “carnage” inside the building, saying the attackers had tossed explosives at the hostages. Both officials said they expected the toll of victims to rise.

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11:45 p.m.

World leaders have expressed shock at the violence in Paris.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is “deeply shaken by the news and pictures that are reaching us from Paris.” The German leader issued a statement saying her thoughts were with the victims “of the apparent terrorist attack.”

The Secretary-General of the NATO alliance says he is “deeply shocked by horrific Paris attacks.”

Jens Stoltenberg said in a Twitter message that “We stand together with the people of #France. Terrorism will never defeat democracy.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is condemning “the despicable terrorist attacks” in Paris and is demanding the immediate release of numerous hostages being held in the Bataclan theater.

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11:35 p.m.

Three police officials confirm that security forces have launched an assault on the Paris concert hall where hostages have been taken.

None of the officials could be named when discussing the ongoing operation, which several officials said involved dozens of hostages.

The Paris police prefecture told resident to remain home and avoid going out unless absolutely necessary.

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11:30 p.m.

Automatic gunfire and blasts have rung out from the area of a Paris music hall where police say people are being held hostage.

Scores of police are surrounding the Bataclan concert hall, and sirens are wailing throughout the neighborhood.

The gunfire began soon after French President Francois Hollande said security forces were launching an assault on one of several sites targeted in attacks Friday night around Paris.

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11:20 p.m.

A police union official says there were two suicide attacks and a bombing near the national stadium where France and Germany were playing a friendly match.

The official, Gregory Goupil of the Alliance Police Nationale, whose region includes the area of the stadium, said there were at least three dead in the attacks near the stadium, near two of the entrances and a McDonalds restaurant.

He said the explosions went off simultaneously. He did not provide more details.

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11.10 p.m.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, some terrorism experts say the Islamic State group is likely responsible.

Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert and senior adviser to the president of RAND Corp., said the extremist group is clearly the name at the top of everyone’s list.” He said this was because the tactic used — “multiple attackers in coordinated attacks at multiple locations” — echoed recommendations published in extremist group’s online magazine,

James Woolsey, a former director of the CIA in 1993-195 and now chancellor at the Institute of World Politics, also told the BBC he suspected the Islamic State because the coordinated nature of the attacks required government-style planning.

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11:05 p.m.

President Barack Obama is calling the attacks on Paris “outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians” and is vowing to do whatever it takes to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama said he would not speculate about who was responsible.

He called the attacks a “heartbreaking situation” and an “attack on all of humanity.”

Obama was briefed on the attacks Friday by his counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco.

The attacks come as the president is preparing for two trips abroad. He’s slated to leave Saturday for a nine-day trip to Turkey, the Philippines and Malaysia. He due to travel to Paris for climate change talks at the end of the month.

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11:00 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande says he is closing the country’s borders and declaring a state of emergency after several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented terrorist attacks.

Hollande, in a televised address to his nation, said the nation would stand firm and united against the attackers.

He said security forces are assaulting one of the sites hit by Friday’s attacks, without elaborating.

“It’s a horror,” he said.

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10:50 p.m.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says he is “shocked” by the Paris attacks and violence.

Cameron said on Twitter “Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people. We will do whatever we can to help.”

French police say at least 35 were killed in multiple acts of violence took place in Paris Friday night, including shootings at restaurants and a hostage-taking at a music theater.

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10:40 p.m.

A White House official says President Barack Obama has been briefed on the attacks in Paris.

The official says counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco briefed the president. The official was not authorized to talk about the private discussion and demanded anonymity.

Obama is slated to travel to Paris at the end of the month to attend a United Nations conference on climate change.

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10:35 p.m.

Hundreds of people spilled onto the field of the Stade de France stadium after explosions were heard nearby during a friendly match between the French and German national soccer teams.

A stadium announcer made an announcement over the loudspeaker after the match, telling fans to avoid certain exits “due to events outside,” without elaborating.

At first that prompted some panic, but then the crowds just walked dazed, hugging each other and looking at their phones for the latest news of the violence.

Many appeared hesitant to leave amid the uncertainty after France’s deadliest attacks in decades.

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10:22 p.m.

Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff says it is too early to know exactly what was happening in Paris.

Social media posts from purported ISIS supporters could indicate that “there was a group waiting for this, but it could be a group watching,” Chertoff said in an interview with MSNBC Friday night.

“I don’t think we can say this proves anything, but again it supports the idea that it’s terrorism,” Chertoff said.

John Cohen, a former Homeland Security Department counterterrorism coordinator, say the presence of multiple attack scenes at the same time suggested a coordinated effort to “send a message” and raises immediate terror concerns, including for other cities in Europe and potentially the United States as well. He said both Al Qaida and ISIS have relied on the strategy of coordinated attacks in the past.

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10:14 p.m.

A Paris police official said there were at least 100 hostages in a Paris theater following shooting and explosions at two sites in the city.

Multiple officials, including one medical official, put the number of dead at between 35 to 40 people.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named according to police policy.

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10:10 p.m.

U.S. Homeland Security Department officials monitoring the attacks in Paris say there is no known, credible threat against the United States.

DHS officials are in contact with their foreign counterparts amid reports of multiple shootings and explosions in Paris.

Police officials in France say at least 26 people have been killed and a hostage-taking situation is underway at a theater.

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10:00 p.m.

Two police officials say that at least 26 people have been killed in shootings and explosions around Paris, in the deadliest violence in France in decades.

One of the police officials said 11 people were killed in a Paris restaurant in the 10th arrondissement and about 15 killed in the Bataclan theater, where a hostage-taking is under way.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named according to police policy.

 

 

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