Late Friday night, eight terrorist operatives attacked various predetermined locations in the city of Paris, France. The six targets included some of the most densely populated areas of the city, including a concert hall hosting an American death metal band, a sports stadium holding a game between France and world champions Germany, and several restaurants and pubs buzzing with weekend revelers.
According to reports, the attackers used both guns and explosives. They opened fire, indiscriminately, in an area with numerous restaurants with roof-top or open-air seating, resulting in one of the highest numbers of casualties caused by any attack on European soil in recent memory. At Bataclan Concert Hall – the site of most of the casualties – a series of explosives went off, injuring hundreds of people while others ducked behind seats and furniture, covering their heads in terror. The sounds of applause quickly turned into those of horrified screams and pained cries. One of the witnesses at the concert described the incidents that occurred last night as a ‘bloodbath’.
French authorities have put the number of casualties at somewhat over 120, while over 200 people lie injured, half of them in serious conditions. Fans attending the soccer match at Stade de France were asked to remain inside after the blasts, causing mass panic and further chaos.
Investigators assume that the attacks were pre-planned and well coordinated, designed to inflict maximum damage. It is also being said that most of the attackers are dead, mostly killed by their own explosives in suicide attacks. Pictures of the masked attackers have surfaced on social media, and it is being assumed that it was an attack commissioned by terrorist groups operating outside France, but with the complicity and assistance of French citizens or residents of the country.
French President Francois Hollande has promised a ruthless retaliation against the parties responsible for the massacre, declaring a state of emergency in France and multiplying border controls. This would probably make it far harder for refugees and migrants (both legal and illegal) to enter France in the near future.
Initial reports claim that ISIS has accepted responsibility for the attack, saying that it was retaliation against France’s intervention in Syria along with other NATO countries. However this claim could not be immediately confirmed as most of the information provided by the so-called spokesmen for ISIS, has already appeared in the Western media. It is therefore not entirely clear who perpetrated the attacks, or why.
The brutal carnage in France – especially the targeting of tourist destinations – brings back memories of the Mumbai attacks of 26/11, 2008. How the French state reacts to the massacre remains to be seen. The hunt is still on for any accomplices of the attackers who might still be alive and at large. The search for the mastermind behind the attacks has also begun.
Social media is abuzz with hashtags such as #ParisAttack and #PrayforParis, with people from all over the world paying homage to the victims and offering help over the internet. Let us hope that the mists of fear and confusion surrounding the city of Paris shall soon be cleared, so that we can once again see the beautiful and awe-inspiring city that the French capital has always been, in all its glory.