At least 120 people were killed in a series of terror attacks in Paris on Friday according to a provisional total, a source close to the investigation said. Eight militants were also killed -- seven by their suicide vests -- and more than 200 people were injured in the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II.
In the middle of the fast-paced investigation and after a night of terror, here’s all that has emerged so far:
How it started
Attackers took hostages and systematically killed more than 80 people at the Bataclan theatre as Paris saw a series of explosions and shootings.
About seven simultaneous shootings rocked central Paris as the hostage situation emerged at the Bataclan concert hall where hundreds of people were attending a concert of a rock group, Xinhua reported. One of the attackers at the concert hall fired into the crowd shouting “Allahu akbar (God is greatest)”, a witness said.
In an eyewitness report posted on Europe1 website, journalist Julien Pierce said “two or three individuals, who are not wearing masks and armed with kalashnikov entered the hall while the concert was underway and started blindly shooting at the crowd”.
Another 40 people were killed in up to five other attacks in the Paris region, an official said.
Two explosions were heard near the national football stadium Stade de France where a France-Germany friendly soccer match was being played. It was attended by French President Francois Hollande.
In a brief statement on television, French President Hollande declared a state of emergency across the country and ordered the borders to be closed.
“Some places will be closed, traffic will be banned and searches may be conducted throughout the Ile-de-France,” he said, adding about 1,500 military reinforcements have been deployed “to ensure that no other attack can take place”.
In addition, the schools and universities in the capital will be closed on Saturday.
Describing the attacks as “horror”, the President vowed that the government would wage a “merciless” fight against terrorism.
Hollande cancelled plans to travel to Turkey at the weekend for a G20 summit. He called an emergency meeting of his national security council for 9 am (0800 GMT) on Saturday.
He will head a defence meeting on Saturday morning after the deadly attacks have shaken the country’s security policy ahead of the high-profile international conference on climate scheduled for the end of this month.
Radio stations broadcast warnings to Parisians to stay home and leave the streets and urged residents to give shelter to anyone caught out in the street.
What happened to the attackers
Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said as many as five attackers were killed, though it was not clear how many there were altogether and how many, if any, were still at large. News agency AFP quoted investigation sources as saying that eight militants were killed --- seven by their suicide vests.
Four of the attackers were killed in the Bataclan concert hall, three by activating their suicide vests and one shot by police. Three more died near the national stadium and a fourth was killed in a street in eastern Paris.
Who are behind the attacks
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Paris attacks, but according to the news channel BFMTV, the terrorists shouted “It’s for Syria”.
The likely coordinated attacks came as France, a member of the US-led coalition combating the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, struck the group’s strategic targets this week.
On high alert for terrorist attacks, the French government had raised the anti-terrorism alert to maximum and additional thousands of security forces have been deployed across the country to protect sensitive sites.
Jihadists on Twitter praised the attack and criticised France’s military operations against Islamic State extremists.
Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert and senior adviser to the president of RAND Corp., said the extremist group was clearly the name at the top of everyone’s list.”
He said this was because the tactic used-- “multiple attackers in coordinated attacks at multiple locations”--echoed recommendations published in extremist group’s online magazine.
World leaders respond
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned “the despicable terrorist attacks carried out today in various locations in and around Paris”.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “deeply shocked” by the deadly attacks in Paris, offering “thoughts and prayers” to the French people.
“I am shocked by events in Paris tonight. Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people. We will do whatever we can to help,” Cameron said via his Twitter account.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was deeply shocked by the attacks in Paris and declared solidarity with France.
US President Barack Obama on Friday condemned the deadly attacks and said it was too early to determine who was behind those attacks.
Calling the attacks in and around Paris “an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians”, Obama said the US stood ready to provide assistance for the French government.
He also said US officials were “in contact with French counterparts to communicate condolences to families of the victims”.
Ripples of fear
The Belgian authorities said they have boosted checks on their borders, especially with France, following the attacks.
“Reinforced border checks have been established on the borders within the framework especially of a close collaboration with the French authorities,” according to Belgium’s national centre for threat evaluation, OCAM.
American Airlines Group, the world’s biggest carrier by passenger traffic, said it was delaying flights to Paris.
“Currently Charles de Gaulle International Airport is open, however, we are holding our remaining departures this evening to Paris until we have additional information,” American Airlines spokesperson Joshua Freed said.
New York, Boston and other cities in the United States bolstered security after the Paris strikes.
The New York Police Department said officers from its Counterterrorism Response Command and other special units were deployed in areas frequented by tourists, and at the French Consulate in Manhattan.
“Teams have been dispatched to crowded areas around the city out of an abundance of caution to provide police presence and public reassurance as we follow the developing situation overseas,” the NYPD said in a statement.
New York, the site of the September 11, 2001, hijacked plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the World Trade Centre’s twin towers, is considered a top target for potential attacks by Islamist militants.
The top of the Empire State Building and the spire at One World Trade Centre were lit up Friday night with blue, white and red, the colours of the French flag.