Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Paris Attacks as France Reels
Photo via Twitter/Breaking3zeroUS
In an online statement, the group said France is staying at the "top of the list" of its targets, the AP said, and it also said the locales attacked by eight militants wearing explosive belts and toting automatic weapons were “carefully chosen” in the “capital of adultery and vice."
"The stench of death will not leave their noses as long as they remain at the forefront of the Crusaders' campaign, dare to curse our prophet, boast of a war on Islam in France, and strike Muslims in the lands of the caliphate with warplanes that were of no use to them in the streets and rotten alleys of Paris," the statement said, per the AP.
This part alludes to France’s membership in a U.S.-led coalition currently in conflict with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
With France reeling from the deadliest attacks on its soil since World War II, president Francois Hollande is vowing a strong response, per another AP update. Among his immediate actions, he officially commenced three days of mourning, raised the nation’s security to its highest level, and declared to the nation that the attacks were "an act of war that was prepared, organized, planned from abroad with internal help," the AP said. Hollande added that France will be increasing its efforts to stamp out the Islamic State as part of the military coalition, and "will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group."
The full scope of these attacks is now known. Three suicide bombers detonated their explosives around Stade de France stadium, where President Hollande happened to be watching an soccer match while gunmen strafed a string of cafes in a trendy Paris neighborhood, killing at least 37, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said, via the AP.
Meanwhile, the Bataclan concert venue was stormed as American rock band Eagles of Death Metal played. After strafing the audience and taking hostages, three attackers committed suicide via explosive belts as police responded, Paris police chief Michel Cadot said, according to the AP.
In addition, another attacker set off a suicide bomb near the music hall on Boulevard Voltaire, the prosecutor's office said.
Altogether, eight assailants died, seven by suicide bomb, authorities said, per the AP. The investigation by French anti-terror police is ongoing, and Prosecutor's office spokesperson Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre said they have not ruled out the existence of other attack participants still at large.
"The big question on everyone's mind is: Were these attackers — if they turn out to be connected to one of the groups in Syria — were they homegrown terrorists or were they returning fighters?" Brian Michael Jenkins, terrorism expert and senior adviser to the president of the Washington-based RAND Corporation, said to the AP.
Impact on Tourism
Countries across Europe are stepping up security, according to the AP. Italy has deployed 700 soldiers to Rome as a “deterrent,” and border security has increased; forces have been deployed at all international airports, shopping centers and the French embassy in Prague, Czech Republic; the U.K. will have additional security at ports and big events; Hungary will reinforce controls at border checkpoints, and increase police patrols at airports as well as provide the officers with a bigger arsenal; Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the country would take "visible and invisible" increased security measures, but would not elaborate; Russia's civil aviation authority has told the nation’s airlines and airports to heighten security and the national rail network said it is taking extra security precautions.
Travelers entering France will face increased scrutiny as Hollande has renewed border checks along areas normally open under Europe's free-travel zone, the AP said.
And as the AP pointed out, there are now questions about safety for the millions of tourists who flock to Paris.
Bolstering police presence, the AP said 1,500 troops have been deployed in the city to restore order and “(reassure) a frightened populace.”
Saturday also saw such top tourist attractions as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum and Disneyland closed to the public until further notice, the AP reported.
Also, the Culture Ministry said "public cultural sites" were closed in the Paris region Saturday, without providing specifics.
Impact on Airlines
On Twitter, Delta has announced a waiver for flights traveling to and from Paris through 11/22, as a result of the tragedy. Due to the “security situation” in the city, the carrier is urging fliers to check their flight status often, and provides a link to do so in the tweet. The webpage also has a list of other French cities served by the carrier that may be affected.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Air France “confirms that all of its flights are maintained. Identity checks have been reinforced, particularly for Schengen area passengers, as has baggage screening. Increased screening in airport terminals and in exclusion areas around aircraft has also been put into place by the authorities.”
Passengers are being advised to arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport three hours before their flight with valid ID, and “commercial measures” are available on airfrance.com for those who want to postpone travel. Air France said they “will inform its customers and all of its colleagues as soon as possible if the situation changes.”
According to a Reuters report, American Airlines held flights that would have departed for Paris Friday evening, pending additional information, airline spokesperson Joshua Freed said.
However, United Continental Holdings spokesperson Charles Hobart said to Reuters, "We're operating our schedule as planned," a trio of Friday night flights to Paris from Washington D.C., Chicago and Newark.
Reuters noted that Delta was in touch with its partners, Air France KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and said a spokesperson was "not aware of any changes to their operations."
The Federal Aviation Administration is "following the situation closely and remains in close contact with our security and law enforcement partners," according to an agency spokesperson, via Reuters.
"The agency is prepared to act quickly in the event action is warranted," she said.
Due to the tragedy in Paris, we've issued a waiver traveling to and from Paris through 11/22. For more info see https://t.co/7KJbgGL7b5.— Delta Assist (@DeltaAssist) November 14, 2015
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