Terror in Paris: What we know so far

Posted at 6:44 AM, Nov 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-14 22:54:28-05

By Evan Perez, Paul Armstrong, Don Melvin and Pat St.Claire


(CNN) — Parisians woke up Saturday to a full realization of the horror wrought by the terrorist attacks of the previous evening, violence deadlier than anything Paris has experienced since World War II.

No place, it seemed, was safe. The West’s counterterrorism strategy appeared in tatters. And coming just 10 months after the attack on the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine, where 12 people were killed, one had to wonder whether France had become a particular target.

French President Francois Hollande said Saturday that ISIS was responsible for Friday’s series of deadly attacks. He called the coordinated attacks “an act of war.”

ISIS claimed responsibility in an online statement. The statement said eight ISIS militants wearing explosive belts and armed with machine guns attacked precisely selected targets in the French capital.

It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Europe since the Madrid train bombings of 2004, in which 191 people died. And it came less than two weeks after after a Russian plane crashed in Sinai — downed, intelligence officials believe, by a terrorist bomb — killing all 224 people aboard.

Some intelligence officials are also blaming that act of terrorism on ISIS, which seems to be eclipsing al Qaeda as the most significant global terrorist threat.

Here is what we know so far:

What happened?

— Three teams of terrorists staged coordinated attacks at six locations throughout Paris late Friday, including a theater, the Stade de France and at least two restaurants, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Saturday.

— Molins said Saturday that at least 129 people were killed and 352 wounded in the attacks. Ninety-nine of the wounded are reported in very serious condition, he said.

— Molins said seven terrorists were killed, although in its initial statement, ISIS claimed to have eight attackers involved. The reason for the discrepancy is not immediately clear.

— We do not know whether other attackers are at large. Police are searching for any possible attackers or accomplices.

— “The threat is still going on. The risk is still very high, and nothing says this terror sequence is over yet,” Paris Deputy Mayor Paul Klugman said.

— French media, citing law enforcement sources, reported that a Syrian passport was found on one of the bodies of the attackers and that verification was in progress. The finding did not necessarily mean the person was Syrian.

— President Francois Hollande was at Stade de France, where France was hosting Germany in a soccer friendly. Hollande was evacuated and has vowed a ruthless response to the attacks.

Where were the attacks?

Bataclan concert hall

— This was the deadliest site, with at least 89 people killed, Molins said.

–Three attackers with assault rifles arrived in a car, entered the concert venue and opened fire. They took audience members hostage and regrouped them in front of the stage, which is why most of the victims were found there, Molins said. The attackers talked about Syria and Iraq during a brief address.

— Police stormed the theater in a rescue operation. The three attackers were killed: two by suicide belts and one by police gunfire and his suicide belt.

— Eagles of Death Metal, a blues rock band from Palm Desert, California, had been performing.

— A witness told Radio France that the attackers entered firing pump rifles and shouting “Allahu akbar.”

— The “scale and complexity” of the Paris attacks “surprised everyone,” said Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at Kings College London.

–Terrorism experts had expected some kind of attack but did not think ISIS would be able to carry off something on this scale.

Stade de France

— Four people were killed outside the sports stadium in Saint-Denis, a suburb north of Paris: three suicide bombers and a man who had been walking by, Molins said.

— France was playing Germany in a soccer match at the time.

— A witness, Gabriel Haddad, said two explosions could be heard in the background during the game. Molins said three explosions occurred over 32 minutes outside the stadium: two immediately outside the stadium and one 400 meters away.

— One of the explosions appeared to be a suicide bombing, a Western intelligence source receiving direct intelligence from the scene told CNN’s Deborah Feyerick.

Other locations

— At least 14 people were killed at the restaurant Le Petit Cambodge on Rue Bichat, in the 10th district of Paris.

— At least 19 people were killed outside a bar called La Belle Equipe on Rue de Charonne in the 11th district of Paris.

— Four people died on Avenue de la Republique, in the 10th district of Paris.

The scene in Paris

— Hollande said Friday that a state of emergency was being put in place in Paris.

— French authorities say they have tightened border controls to prevent potential attackers from entering and to capture anyone involved in attacks.

— French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said border controls were tightened Friday, and the gendarmerie paramilitary police are on heightened alert. French security forces have been increased across France as part of the ongoing state of emergency, Cazeneuve announced after a meeting with Hollande at the Elysee Palace.

— Hollande ordered 1,500 military troops to join the security forces currently deployed. The troops will secure locations that are “particularly strategic” and will patrol in the heart of Paris, said Cazeneuve.

The victims

— Valentin Ribet, a Parisian lawyer and graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science, has been identified as one of the victims of the atacks.

— A 23-year-old student from California State University, Long Beach, was also killed in the attacks. Nohemi Gonzalez from El Monte, California, was a junior studying design, according to a statement from Cal State Long Beach.

— At least two Americans are among the injured, a number that is expected to rise, according to two U.S. officials who spoke to CNN. A male American is recovering from a leg injury that is not considered life-threatening. An American woman is also among the injured, though the extent of her injuries is not known. It’s not clear if the woman is the same American who is known to have died in the attacks.

— At least two Belgians have been identified among the dead. Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Didier Vanderhasselt said the French Foreign Ministry had communicated the information to Belgium. He said the number could rise.

— The British Foreign Office confirms the death of a British national, Nick Alexander, who was killed at the Bataclan concert venue.

— Three Chilean nationals died in the Paris attacks, including two relatives of Chilean Ambassador to Mexico Ricardo Nunez, a Chilean Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday. The victims were identified as Patricia San Martin and her daughter, Elsa Veronique Delplace San Martin, Nunez’s niece and grandniece; and Luis Felipe Zschoche Valle, a musician who had lived in Paris for eight years, the foreign ministry said.

The Investigation

— One of the suicide bombers has been identified as Ismael Omar Mostefai, said Jean-Pierre Gorges, a French member of Parliament who also is mayor of Chartres. Mostefai lived in Chartres at least until 2012, Gorges said via Facebook.

— The FBI is sending an additional four agents to France to support the FBI office based in Paris, according to two law enforcement officials. The French have not formally requested assistance, but the move is made in case they do.

— Eyewitness accounts and videos showed the terrorists arriving at attack locations in a black Seat and a black VW Polo. A man who rented the VW Polo was intercepted Saturday at the Belgian border, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Saturday. He is a French national living in Belgium and was accompanied by two other people, Molins said. When stopped, he was not driving a car used in the attacks.

— Belgian authorities have opened an official investigation handled by a Brussels-based investigative judge specializing in terrorism.

— A source close to the investigation told CNN that officials found passports on two of the eight attackers. One of the passports was Syrian, the other Egyptian. The source said, “There is a strong assumption that these passports are fake.”

–The Syrian passport belonged to a person who had been processed on the Greek island of Leros, Greek Deputy Minister of Citizen Protection Nikos Toskas said in a statement Saturday. But ministry officials said they are not sure whether the holder of the passport was the person who carried out the attacks. CNN also cannot independently verify that the passport found was authentic or that it belonged to one of the attackers.


— Belgian authorities say a number of arrests have been made after raids in a Brussels suburb connected to the Paris attacks. The raids took place in Molenbeek, on the outskirts of Brussels, said justice ministry spokeswoman Sieghild Lacoere. She also said a car rented in Brussels was found near one of the sites of the attacks in France, and “that’s what triggered the raids.”

— U.S. President Barack Obama pledged solidarity with France, saying, “We’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.”

— Pope Francis condemned the killings, saying they were a part of the “piecemeal Third World War.” “There is no religious or human justification for it,” he said in a telephone interview with TV2000, the television network of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.

— Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles sent messages of sympathy to France.

— A U.S. government official said that at the moment, there is no credible or specific threat to the United States.

— American intelligence agencies are looking at all intelligence, including communications intercepts, for any indication that there had been planning or coordination, according to a U.S. intelligence official.

— British Prime Minister David Cameron convened a meeting of the emergency response committee. The threat level in the United Kingdom is at “severe,” meaning a militant attack is considered highly likely.

— Russian leader Vladimir Putin sent condolences to Hollande and the people of France.

— Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to Syrian media, said Western support of insurgents in Syria had fueled an “expansion of terror” abroad.

— The Netherlands is increasing border security, especially on roads to and from France, according to a spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice. Jean Fransman said extra personnel have been deployed and security at airports has been reinforced.


— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel “stands shoulder to shoulder to France in this common battle against radical Islamic terrorism.” He has offered his nation’s security and intelligence forces to France and other European nations, should they need assistance.

— The National Football League announced that it would have “robust” security in place for Sunday games in the United States but said authorities knew of no threats against stadiums.

— New York Mayor Bill de Blasio attended a vigil in Washington Square with the French consul general and said, “We can teach a lesson to the world because of what we went through on 9/11. … We must refuse to be terrorized.”

— The EU issued a statement reading in part, “The European Union is deeply shocked and in mourning after the terrorist attacks in Paris. It is an attack against us all. We will face this threat together with all necessary means and ruthless determination.”

— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Vienna for a round of diplomatic talks on Syria, denounced the attacks on Paris, calling France “America’s oldest ally.” Delivering his comments in French, Kerry said, “The bond our nations share today is both visceral and unshakable.” He noted that, for him, the attacks also are personal. “I am one of many Americans with deep connections to France and immediate family living in and around Paris,” he said.

— Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi called Hollande to offer condolences.

— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that state agencies are on heightened alert, taking security precautions and using new surveillance measures to protect the state. De Blasio ordered flags flown at half-staff.

— Monuments around the world were lit up in blue, white and red in solidarity with Paris. In London, the monuments included the London Eye, Tower Bridge and Wembley Stadium. The French flag, lowered to half-staff, is flying at Cameron’s Downing Street office alongside the Union Flag, the office said.

— New York’s One World Trade Center will be lit up blue, white and red on Saturday in support of Paris, according to Cuomo’s office.

CNN’s Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.