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Islamic State Claims Paris Attacks That Killed 129

November 13, 2015

The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris which killed 129 people and wounded dozens of others.

The extremist group said in an official statement posted online November 14 that 'eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles' carried out the attacks.

It said the attacks on November 13 were a response to insults to Islam's prophet and air strikes in 'Islamic State territory.'

The statement comes shortly after French President Francois Hollande said in a televised address that the attacks were committed by Islamic State extremists.

Calling the attacks an 'act of war,' Hollande said the attacks were planned and organized from abroad with help from inside France.

Police say that eight assailants also died, seven of whom blew themselves up with explosive belts at various locations, while one was shot dead by police. It was not clear if all the attackers were accounted for.

None of the attackers has yet been publicly identified.

However, news agencies quoted unnamed sources close to the inquiry as saying one of the assailants had French nationality and was known to have ties with Islamist militants.

Reports say the gunman's body was identified by his fingerprints and that he was from the Courcouronnes suburb south of Paris.

Media reports say an Egyptian and a Syrian passport had been found near the bodies of two of the suicide bombers.

A Greek official said on November 14 the holder of the Syrian passport crossed into the European Union through Greece in October.

'The holder of the passport passed through the island of Leros on October 3, 2015, where he was identified according to EU rules,' said Greece's deputy minister in charge of police, Nikos Toscas.

'We do not know if the passport was checked by other countries through which the holder likely passed,' Toscas said.

In Belgium, authorities said on November 14 they have made several arrests linked to the attacks in Paris.

Justice Minister Koen Geens said the arrests came after a car with Belgian license plates was seen close to the Bataclan theater late on November 13.

He said it was a rental vehicle and police organized several raids in the St. Jans Molenbeek neighborhood in Brussels on November 14.

German officials say a man arrested in Germany's southern state of Bavaria in early November after guns and explosives were found in his car may be linked to the Paris attacks.

'There are reasonable grounds for presuming that it might be related to the matter,' Bavaria's state premier, Horst Seehofer, said on November 14.

The attacks are the worst terrorist attack in France's history.

At the scene of the worst carnage, the gunmen entered the Bataclan concert hall as it was hosting an American rock band and held dozens of the some 1,500 concertgoers there hostage as they went on a shooting spree.

Paris city officials told media that at least 87 people were killed in the concert hall.

Eyewitnesses present in the hall during the attacks said the gunmen, some shouting 'God is greatest' in Arabic, systematically shot dead hostages as the music fans tried to hide.

Some victims were killed when the militants set off their suicide vests as the hall was stormed by elite French forces, who managed to shoot and kill one of the attackers before he set off his suicide bomb belt.

There was also an apparent double suicide bombing north of the center of the city near the Stade de France national stadium, where Germany and France were playing a friendly soccer match.

French President Francois Hollande Hollande, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier were evacuated from the soccer match.

There were also reported attacks outside at least one restaurant, where gunmen opened fire on patrons sitting at an outdoor terrace.

Hollande has vowed to be ruthless with any attackers and accomplices who remained alive.

Calling the attacks an 'abomination' and 'barbarism,' he vowed: 'We will lead the fight. We will be merciless.'

Hollande declared a state of emergency and said he had closed the country's borders. Some 1,500 French soldiers were deployed in Paris.

The French president has canceled his participation in the G20 summit in Turkey slated for November 14 and called a Defense Council meeting at Elysee Palace.

France is to observe three days of official mourning.

International Condemnation

World leaders are condemning the attacks.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the November 13 attacks 'an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.'

British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed that 'we will do whatever we can to help.'

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the attacks were a call to unite against extremism.

'The Paris tragedy requires of us all to unite in the fight against extremism, to bring a strong answer to terrorists' actions,' Medvedev said in a statement published on the government's website.

Chinese President Xi Jinping condemned 'in the strongest ways this barbarous act.'

Iranian President Hassan Rohani branded the attacks 'crimes against humanity' as Tehran announced he would postpone a scheduled trip to Paris this weekend because of them.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who announced the cancellation to Iranian news media, did not say when the trip would be rescheduled.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey offered his condolences.

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah tweeted that 'these brutal, barbaric & coward attacks show that terrorists have no religion... Global efforts must eliminate terrorism.'

And the head of Sunni Islam's leading seat of learning, Cairo's Al-Azhar, condemned the attacks as 'hateful.'

'We denounce this hateful incident,' Ahmad al-Tayyeb told a conference in comments broadcast by Egyptian state television.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP

Source: shootout-explosions-casualties/27364156.html

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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