Listen to this article
France could extend its state of emergency beyond 12 days, the prime minister has said, as officials identified one of the Paris terror attackers as Omar Ismael Mostefai, a 29-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, who had been flagged for links to Islamist radicalism.
Manuel Valls said the state of emergency, which gives sweeping investigating powers to police, could be extended. This would require a vote in parliament.
He said France would extend its action in Syria in the coming days to “hit, annihilate Daesh”, the name French officials use to describe Isis. He said France’s strategy in Syria would be debated in parliament in eight days time.
François Hollande is to address the lower and upper houses of parliament on Monday in Versailles.
With the fight against Islamist militants Isis set to dominate the G20 leaders meeting in Turkey, French officials said six people had been detained for questioning, including Mostefai’s father and a brother.
Mostefai was a member of one of the three groups of Isis terrorists who carried out co-ordinated attacks across Paris on Friday night in which at least 129 people were murdered and another 352 people injured, the Paris prosecutor, François Molins, has said. The Paris prosecutor said he was identified by fingerprints on a finger found at the scene of the attacks.
Mr Molins said Mostefai was flagged by the DGSI intelligence service as early as 2010 but had not been thought to have any association with terrorists.
Mostefai, a father of two according to French media reports, was a resident of Chartres until 2012 and had had several brushes with the law for minor offences including driving without a licence.
According to one unconfirmed report, he went to Syria in the winter of 2013-14.
Mr Molins confirmed on Saturday that seven terrorists died after six blew themselves up and another was shot by the police. Isis has claimed responsibility for the bloody attacks — one of the worst terrorist atrocities in a western capital city since September 11 2001.
A Syrian passport — confirmed as being used in Greece last month — was found near one of the attackers close to France’s national stadium where three explosions occurred.
Three men were arrested on the Belgium border on Saturday in connection with the Paris attacks. Mr Molins refused to confirm whether these men were the same three attackers that escaped in a black Seat car after shooting 39 people at restaurants and bars in the 10th and 11th arrondissements with automatic weapons.
A black Seat car believed to have been used by the attackers has been found in Montreuil, eastern Paris.
Isis issued a statement on Saturday saying “this is only the beginning of the storm” after French president François Hollande blamed the bloody attacks on the organisation in a televised address.
“It’s an act of war perpetrated by a terrorist army, Daesh [Isis], against France, against a free country,” he said.
Isis claimed eight attackers “carrying explosives belts and assault rifles targeted meticulously in advance at the heart of the French capital”. It claimed the attackers set off their explosives after running out of ammunition.
Mr Hollande has declared a national state of emergency in France, deploying an extra 1,000 military and another 230 police officers around Paris and imposing border controls. He has also proclaimed three days of national mourning.
|Gideon Rachman||François Heisbourg||Philip Stephens|
Terrorists strike at a particularly sensitive moment in the history of France and Europe
Success in defeating terrorism will be measured by society’s response
Syria’s civil war transfers almost casually to the heart of one of Europe’s great cities
Paris was in lockdown on Saturday, with department stores, cinemas, museums and tourist attractions including Disneyland Paris closed for the day. Many of the city’s street markets — the staple of the Parisian resident’s weekend shopping — were also reported to be closed on the day after the attacks. Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, asked residents to stay indoors. All schools, libraries, public swimming pools and other public services were also closed on Saturday.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has laid out new security measures as part of the national state of emergency: police will be allowed to restrict circulation in some areas, perform house searches more easily, and shut down businesses such as concert halls and bars. Demonstrations will not be authorised in Paris until Thursday and security at railway stations and airports will be reinforced.
The attacks were set to dominate discussions in Vienna on Saturday, involving diplomats from across Europe, the US, Russia and the Middle East. The talks are aimed at paving the way for a political solution to the Syrian civil war, the divisions of which have acted as the greatest driver of Isis’s growth.
Events in Paris are unlikely to make the chance of a peaceful solution in Syria any easier, however, and are instead likely to play into the hands of hawks keen to ramp up military action and foreign supporters of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Washington and its allies say Mr Assad’s brutality and connivance created Isis.
This is the second major attack to hit Paris this year, following the terrorist assaults on the French capital in January, when three Islamist extremists killed 17 people at the offices of weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. It is the deadliest terrorist attack in western Europe since the Madrid train bombings in 2004.
Koen Geens, Belgium’s justice minister, confirmed that “multiple arrests” had been made linked to the Paris attacks after police raids in Brussels’ Molenbeek neighbourhood.
Nikos Toskas, the Greek minister for citizens’ protection, confirmed that the holder of the Syrian passport found at the scene had passed through Greece last month. He said the passport-holder was among a group of refugees who arrived by boat from Turkey. However, there is no confirmation the passport belonged to one of the suspects.
The Paris attacks began in busy and popular areas of the capital at about 10pm local time. Attackers killed at least 89 concertgoers and took hostages at Le Bataclan, a 1,500-seat music venue near Place de la République, where the US band Eagles Of Death Metal were due to perform. In its statement, Isis called the music fans at the Bataclan “idolators at a festival of perversity”.
“It’s horrific,” Mr Hollande said on television before security forces had stormed the concert hall. “We are mobilising all the police force possible to neutralise the terrorists.”
Witnesses also reported gunmen shooting at La Belle Equipe, a restaurant on Rue de Charonne in the 11th arrondissement. Two neighbouring restaurants by the Canal St Martin, Le Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon, were also targeted.
In a statement from the White House, President Barack Obama pledged the US would provide any help France requested. “We will do whatever it takes to work with the French people and nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice,” he said.
He added: “This was not just an attack on Paris and the people of France, but an attack on all of humanity and universal values we share.”
Mr Obama later spoke to Mr Hollande, and on Saturday convened his security council to discuss the attacks
Even as the events in Paris were unfolding, officials and analysts said they were struck by how tightly co-ordinated the attacks seemed to be — a level of sophistication in planning and execution that had not been seen since the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
The fact that there appear to have been so many separate attacks on one night will raise uncomfortable questions for the French intelligence services.
British prime minister David Cameron tweeted that he was “shocked by events in Paris”, adding, “our thoughts and prayers are with the French people”. He later chaired a meeting of Cobra, the government’s security committee, on Saturday morning.
Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said she was “deeply shaken” by the attacks and that her thoughts were with the victims, their relatives and the people of Paris.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani cancelled his trip to the Vatican and Paris that was due to start on Saturday. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian foreign minister, said the visit would happen “in a more appropriate time in the near future”.
Reporting by Anne-Sylvaine Chassany, Simon Kuper and Adam Thomson in Paris, Sam Jones in London, Geoff Dyer in Washington and Adam Samson in New York