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Night of blood and horror in Paris

The body of a victim lies on the ground covered by a white sheet outside a cafe in central Paris, November 13, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

A string of coordinated attacks in and around the French capital of Paris has left 127 people dead and some 200 others injured, as a state of emergency is declared in the European country shaken by the horrific attacks.

Assailants struck at least six different venues, ranging from the national sports stadium to a pizzeria, late on Friday.

French President Francois Hollande said later on Saturday that the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group was behind the attacks. He termed the attacks “an act of war.”

Shortly after the remarks by Hollande, Daesh in a statement claimed responsibility for the assaults. 

Hollande said 127 people had been killed in the incidents.

Emergency personnel arrive at the Stade de France in Saint Denis, suburban Paris, November 13, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

According to reports, out of the roughly 200 people injured in the attacks, 80 individuals are reported to have been seriously injured.

A total of eight assailants were also killed in the attacks, most of them by detonating their explosive belts.

An extra 1,500 soldiers have been mobilized to reinforce police in Paris, Hollande’s office said. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has also urged residents to stay at their homes.

The coordinated assaults came as France, a founding member of the US-led coalition conducting airstrikes against purported Daesh positions in Syria and Iraq, was already on high alert for terrorist attacks ahead of a global climate conference due to open later this month

Police cordon off a street following several attacks in and around the French capital, Paris, November 13, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Hollande, meanwhile, cancelled his visit to the summit of the Group of Twenty (G20) international forum in Turkey and will be represented there by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Finance Minister Michel Sapin.

Emergency declared, borders closed

Soon after the attacks, the French president declared a state of emergency in a bid to contain the security situation in the country.

“As I speak, terrorist attacks of unprecedented proportions are underway in the Paris area. There are dozens killed, there are many injured. It is a horror.”

He also said France’s borders have been ordered shut following the attacks.

“We must ensure that no one comes in to commit any act whatsoever, and at the same time make sure that those who have committed these crimes should be arrested if they try to leave the country,” the French president said in a brief televised statement.

French President Francois Hollande (C), surrounded by bodyguards, arrives at the scene of an attack in Paris, November 13, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Meanwhile, condemnations and expressions of sympathy are pouring in for the French government and people.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has sent a message to his French counterpart, condemning the attacks.

“In the name of the Iranian nation, itself a victim of the evil scourge of terrorism, I strongly condemn these inhumane crimes and condole with the bereaved French nation and government,” President Rouhani said in his message.

Other countries, including the United States, Russia, Britain, Germany, Spain, India, Australia, and Turkey, as well as the European Union (EU) have voiced their condemnation of the attacks.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has also condemned the attacks in the French capital.

The United Nations (UN)’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also condemned the attacks. So has the Vatican.

A number of countries, including China, have also said they are ready to work with France to combat terrorism.

Saudi Arabia, whose clerics officially preach Wahhabism, an extremely intolerant and violent ideology, has also said the Paris attacks show it is necessary to eradicate “threats to global security” through joint international efforts. In the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, 15 assailants out of the total 19 were Saudi nationals.

Paris in the crosshairs

The French capital had been targeted in another series of terrorist attacks as recently as January 7, when gunmen attacked the Paris offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and wounding 11 others.

The incident was followed by a series of sieges and shootings across Paris, resulting in the killing of more people and an extensive sense of insecurity in the country.

In a posthumous video released a few days later, Amedy Coulibaly, a gunman who killed four hostages in another terror attack at a Paris supermarket before he was slain by police, claimed he was acting on behalf of the Daesh Takfiri group in coordination with the two brothers who attacked Charlie Hebdo offices. He said the two brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, were affiliated with the al-Qaeda terrorist group.

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