Sunday, November 15, 2015

Eiffel Tower goes dark as France mourns 129 dead

PARISThe Eiffel Tower stood dark in a symbol of mourning Saturday night as France struggled to absorb the deadliest violence on its soil since World War II: coordinated gun-and-suicide bombing attacks across Paris that left at least 129 people dead and 352 injured.
President Francois Hollande vowed that France would wage “merciless” war on the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the mayhem, as investigators raced to track down their accomplices and uncovered possible links to networks in Belgium and Syria.
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.
He said the attackers in the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people died, mentioned Syria and Iraq during their rampage. Of the hundreds wounded in the six attacks, 99 were in critical condition.
Seven attackers launched gun attacks at Paris cafes, detonated suicide bombs near France’s national stadium and killed hostages inside the concert venue during a show by an American rock band — an attack on the heart of the pulsing City of Light.
Ahsan Naeem, a 39-year-old filmmaker, said he’s been to many of the places that were attacked Friday.
“I’ve seen dozens of gigs at the Bataclan. Eaten at the Petit Cambodge. Sat outside Le Carillon on so many nights,” said Naeem, who has lived in Paris for seven years. “All those places will have been full of my people. My friends. My acquaintances.”
Late Saturday, a crowd of up to 250 people gathered for an impromptu candlelight vigil at the Place de la Republique, the site of a massive demonstration in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings earlier this year.

 Eiffel Tower goes dark as France mourns 129 dead

Adrien Chambel, a 27-year-old law student, said the crowd was much sparser than in January. “You feel that people are petrified,” Chambel said.
Hollande, who declared three days of national mourning and raised the nation’s security to its highest level, called the carnage “an act of war that was prepared, organized, planned from abroad with internal help.”
The president said France would increase its military efforts to crush IS. He said France — which is part of a U.S.-led coalition bombing suspected IS targets in Syria and Iraq and also has troops fighting Islamic militants in Africa — “will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group.”
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility in an online statement in Arabic and French circulated by supporters. It was not immediately possible to confirm the authenticity of the claim, which bore the group’s logo and resembled previous verified statements from the group.
The statement called Paris “the capital of prostitution and obscenity” and mocked France’s air attacks on suspected ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq, saying France’s air power was “of no use to them in the streets and rotten alleys of Paris.”
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.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that all public demonstrations would be banned until Thursday and local governments throughout the country would have the option to impose nightly curfews.
The attacks, on an unusually balmy November Friday evening, struck at the heart of Parisian nightlife, including at a soccer match, which draws together spectators of all social classes and backgrounds.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the attacks had targeted the Paris of diversity, “probably because this example of living together, which is so strong in our city, is unbearable for fanatical people.”
Parisians expressed shock, disgust and defiance in equal measure. Some areas were quiet, but hundreds queued outside a hospital near the Bataclan concert hall to donate blood.
Authorities said seven attackers died, six in suicide bombings, a new terror tactic in France.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

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