On Friday, November 13th, 129 people were killed and 352 other people were injured in six separate attacks across Paris, France. Since then, France shut down their borders entirely and officially announced a state of emergency for the first time since 1958. Yet another day to be remembered and mourned after the suicide bomb attack in Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday, November 12th, and the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris earlier this year.
At least 41 people were killed and more than 200 people were wounded in two suicide bombing attacks in a busy shopping street in Beirut, capital of Lebanon. The bombing was the deadliest in the capital since the end of Lebanon’s civil war in 1990. Hezbollah forces had been fighting ISIS in neighboring Syria. The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) said it was behind the attacks in Burj al-Barajneh, a mainly Shia southern suburb and Hezbollah stronghold. Just a day after the Beirut incident, Paris suffered from massive attacks.
The six attacked sites across Paris are in chronological order:
Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, 20 rue Alibert, 10th district: drive-by gun attack
Le Carillon bar, 18 rue Alibert, 10th district: drive-by gun attack
Stade de France, St. Denis, North of Paris: suicide bomb attack
Bataclan Concert Hall, 50 boulevard Voltaire, 11th district: bomb attack and hostages held
La Belle Equipe, 92 rue de Charonne, 11th district: gun attack
Louvre and Les Halles: gun attack
ISIS released a statement in French on Saturday, November 14th and claimed responsibility for the attacks. There were eight attackers. Seven of them blew themselves up and one was killed by police. They were reported dressing in all black and carrying Kalashnikovs rifles widely known as AK-47’s, and some of them had hand grenades strapped to their vests.
The coordinated attacks started with drive-by shootings at Le Petit Cambodge restaurant in central Paris. “I heard the gunshots when I was going to leave my flat to a bar nearby,” Laila Dib, an intern in Paris that lives in the same neighborhood as the attacked site, told the University Times. Around the same time, multiple attacks were initiated throughout the city and at least 20 people had died by then. Up to three explosions took place outside the French stadium while France was playing against Germany in a friendly soccer match. “People were saying it was a diversion,” Dib said.
Meanwhile, at least 100 people who went to watch the rock group, The Eagles of Death Metal, were held hostage by approximately three gunmen at the Bataclan Concert Hall. French radio reporter Julien Pearce was inside the Bataclan when gunmen entered. He said after wounded people fell to the floor, two gunmen shot them again, execution-style. The gunfire lasted 10 to 15 minutes, sending the crowd inside the small concert hall into a screaming panic. Pearce said he saw 20 to 25 bodies lying on the floor before he escaped.
Among the victims killed, one of them was Cal State Long Beach student Nohemi Gonzalez, a 20-year-old design student from El Monte who went to study abroad at the Strate School of Design in Paris. The university will hold a vigil at 4 P.M. Sunday to mourn Gonzalez’s death and to grieve for all victims of the attack.
French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency in the entire country, shut down the border completely and called in 1,500 soldiers into Paris to patrol the streets. The Paris Metro was also closed down.
During this period of extreme terror and grief, residents of the capital invited people on the street into their homes for shelter. They started to use the #PorteOuverte hashtag to search for or offer safe places for those in need. Taxi drivers turned off their meters and offered passengers free rides home.
The French officials advised residents to stay in and a citywide curfew was put in place–the first since 1944. “It was terrifying, my parents [in Brazil] were freaked out [when they saw the news],” living in the middle of this crisis, Laila Dib said, “I literally don’t want to get out of my house tomorrow, or the day after, or any other day, I don’t even know”. However, when she was asked if she would flee Paris as soon as the border closure is lifted, she replied in a shaken but determined tone, “No. No way. I live here now.”
Many others share the same feeling that the attacks will not terrify the citizens, but instead they will rise and unite. President Hollande told reporters outside Bataclan that “terrorists capable of carrying out such atrocities must know that they will face a France that is determined and united.”
President Barack Obama also delivered a speech at the White House, expressing solidarity with the people of Paris, “We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté, egalité, fraternité, are not just the values French people share, but we share.” Prayers and support are expressed to France from all over the world.