ISIS terrorists were behind Friday’s coordinated terror attacks in Paris that killed at least 127 people and wounded at least 180 others, French president Francois Hollande said Saturday.
As reported by Fox News, ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks and a Syrian passport was found on the body of a suicide bomber who police say detonated a “suicide belt” at a Paris stadium.
Speaking after an emergency meeting to plan France’s next steps, Francois Hollande declared three days of national mourning and raised France’s security to its highest level. Calling Friday’s attacks, which resulted in the worst bloodshed in Paris since World War II an “act of war,” Hollande referred to ISIS as “a terrorist army … a jihadist army, against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: A free country that means something to the whole planet.” Vowing swift retribution, Hollande said France “will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group” and that his government would “act by all means anywhere, inside or outside the country.”
Prior to Friday’s attack France was already battling ISIS by bombing targets in Syria and Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition. French troops are also fighting extremists in Africa.
ISIS officially claimed responsibility for the attacks through an online statement which described Paris as “the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe” and described their fallen attackers as “eight brothers wrapped in explosive belts and armed with machine rifles.”
“Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the IS,” the statement read, “and that the smell of death will never leave their noses as long as they lead the convoy of the Crusader campaign.”
Speaking to the press on Friday, President Barack Obama condemned the act as “an attack on all humanity and the values that we share,” and said the violence was”outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians.”
A U.S. official briefed by the Justice Department says intelligence officials were not aware of any threats before Friday’s attacks.
The nearly-simultaneous attacks began at approximately 9:30 p.m. Paris time , when gunfire exploded outside of a restaurant east of the city’s center in an area known as Little Cambodia. Several attacks shortly followed at a string of popular cafes. Addressing the press, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that at least 37 people were killed in the shootings.
“There are lots of dead people,” said one witness, according to Fox News. “It’s pretty horrific to be honest. I was at the back of the bar. I couldn’t see anything. I heard gunshots. People dropped to the ground. We put a table over our heads to protect us.”
A few moments later, three suicide bombs targeted the Stade de France and it’s surrounding area, where President Hollande was in attendance with nearly 80,000 soccer fans to watch an international match between France and Germany. He was quickly rushed to safety after the initial explosion occurred.
Four attackers then stormed the Bataclan, where concert-goers said the attackers fired randomly into the crowd. According to the Fox News report, survivors say the men shouted “Allahu Akbar” or “This is for Syria” as they fired.
Graphic video, which was shot from an apartment balcony and posted to the Le Monde newspaper’s website Saturday captured some of the devastating horror as dozens of people ran from gunfire outside the concert hall down a side street.
The video shows at victim writhing in pain while on the ground as dozens of other victims run past, many covered in blood. The camera catches people dragging two injured people along the ground in an attempt to help others escape and others can be seen hanging by their hands from upper-floor balcony railings in a bid to flee the line of fire.
“It looked like a battlefield, there was blood everywhere, there were bodies everywhere,” Marc Coupris told the Guardian newspaper after escaping the theater. “I was at the far side of the hall when shooting began. There seemed to be at least two gunmen. They shot from the balcony.
“I saw my final hour unfurl before me, I thought this was the end. I thought, ‘I’m finished, I’m finished,'” said Coupris .
A man going by the name Sylvain told the Guardian, “I was watching the concert in the pit, in the midst of the mass of the audience. First I heard explosions, and I thought it was firecrackers. Very soon I smelled powder, and I understood what was happening. There were shots everywhere, in waves. I lay down on the floor. I saw at least two shooters, but I heard others talk. They cried, ‘It’s Hollande’s fault.’ I heard one of the shooters shout, ‘Allahu Akbar'”.