Three teams of gunmen and suicide bombers staged a series of coordinated attacks that killed 129 people and left over 350 injured, 99 critically, at six locations across Paris, chief prosecutor of France Francois Molins said.
The attacks were planned and organised by teams from abroad with help from inside France.
While their nationalities and sources of funding are not known, the arrests of three people in Belgium linked to a car with Belgian license plates found at a scene of attack in Paris indicate involvement of teams and meticulous planning.
Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens said several people were arrested in Brussels Saturday during police raids connected to the attacks in Paris.
Geens said on RTBF television that these arrests in the capital’s Molenbeek neighbourhood “can be seen in connection with a grey Polo car rented in Belgium” found near Bataclan concert hall where scores of people were killed.
Parking tickets from Molenbeek were found inside the car with Belgian license plates, Belgian media said.
The media reported that at least five people were arrested during the raids, but the number was not confirmed officially.
RTBF earlier reported up to three raids as its website ran a photograph of a man with what looked like a black blindfold as the police put his hands behind his back and handcuffed him.
The French-language tabloid La Derniere Heure added that the raids were carried out to find evidence in homes of three young people who it claimed took part in the attacks.
In Paris, several witness reported that two of the attackers arrived in a vehicle with Belgian license plates.
Of the eight terrorists who carried out the attacks, seven blew themselves up by detonating the explosive vest they were wearing. Many of their accomplices could still be on the loose.
German media reported Saturday that a 51-year-old man arrested last week after firearms were discovered in his car, has been linked to the Paris attacks.
Public broadcaster Bayrischer Rundfunk reported that German authorities had informed French officials about the arrest of the man near the German-Austrian border on November 5. It did not provide a source for its information.
Bavarian state police spokesperson Ludwig Waldinger confirmed that firearms, explosives and hand grenades had been found.
Waldinger told The Associated Press that “we are providing no further information at this point”.
IS claims responsibility for attacks
Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks — the deadliest violence France has seen since World War II.
The group said the attacks were a response to insults of Islam’s prophet and air strikes in its territory.
A statement published online by the terrorist organisation said “eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles” conducted a “blessed attack on… Crusader France”.
A statement in a video released by the group Saturday said the attacks were designed to show France it will remain a top target as long as Paris continues its policies.
It was not clear when the video was taken or if it was in direct relation to Friday’s attacks, but it featured militants who appeared to be French citizens wearing fatigues and holding weapons in what appeared to be a wooded area.
An act of war by IS: Hollande
In an address to the nation, French President François Hollande described the Paris attacks as “an act of war” committed by the “terrorist army”(IS).
Hollande said the murders were “committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State group, 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”.
He said France “will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group” and would “act by all means anywhere, inside or outside the country”.
The attacks were planned and organised from abroad with help from inside France. The terrorists targeted busy bars and restaurants and a crowded football stadium and a concert hall.
Hollande declared three days of national mourning and put the country’s security on the highest level of alert.
“France is united and taking action and it will triumph over barbarity. What we are defending is our country, but more than that, it is our values,” he said.
“In this most serious and uncertain time, I call for unity and courage. Even if France is wounded, she will rise,” he said.
How violence unfolded
The attacks began around 9.30 pm when people were out in the streets numbers enjoying a Friday night.
Three explosions were heard near the Stade de France where about 80,000 spectators, including President Hollande, were watching a friendly football match between France and Germany.
Hollande was immediately evacuated.
Spectators were told to move out onto the pitch to await further instructions from security forces. One person was killed in the blast along with three suicide bombers.
The blast took place near a McDonald’s restaurant on the fringes of the stadium. At least three died in the attacks and several others were injured.
An Associated Press reporter in the stadium heard two explosions loud enough to penetrate the sounds of cheering fans. Sirens were immediately heard, and a helicopter was circling overhead.
An hour later, the popular Cambodian restaurant Le Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon bar-café, both in Rue Bichat in the city’s 10th arrondissement, were targeted. Twelve people are killed on the terrace of Le Petit Cambodge while 14 people were killed at Le Carillon.
Reuters quoted one witness saying he heard gunshots as he was walking on a street in the 1oth district of Paris close to Place de La Republique. When he arrived outside a restaurant, he saw bodies on the ground.
“I saw three bodies being put into body bags,” said Fabien Baron, a student.
The terrace of La Belle Equipe bar in Rue de Charonne and Boulevard Voltaire near the Bataclan concert hall were the next to be attacked by gunmen. At least 18 people died at La Belle Equipe in gunfire that witnesses said lasted for two or three minutes.
The deadliest attack took place at Bataclan concert hall where about 1,200 people were listening to California-based group Eagles of Death Metal.
One hour after the concert began, three or four heavily armed men entered the hall through the main door and went on methodically gunning down 89 people before taking more than 100 people hostage.
Five explosions were heard when police stormed the venue. The attackers detonated explosive vests before police could overpower them.
A few hundred yards from the Bataclan, five people are killed on the terrace of pizzeria La Casa Nostra in the 11th district near the iconic Place de la République.
Another attack, in which one is killed, happened at the same time on the other side of Place de la République. One suicide bomber was killed in the attack.
The series of attacks come as France has heightened security measures, ahead of a major global climate conference that starts in two weeks, out of fear of violent protests and potential terrorist attacks.
France has been on edge since the attacks by Islamic extremists in January on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery that left 20 dead, including the three attackers.
The restaurant targeted Friday, Le Carillon, is in the same general neighborhood as the Charlie Hebdo offices.
Attack on all of humanity: Obama
US President Barack Obama condemned the night of horror in Paris as an “attack on all of humanity” and vowed the United States would stand firmly by France.
“Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong,” Obama said.
“We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberte, egalite, fraternite, are not just the values French people share, but we share,” he said citing France’s national motto.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “Israel stands shoulder to shoulder with French President François Hollande and with the people of France in our common battle against terrorism.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron was due to chair a crisis meeting after what he described as the “sickening” attacks in Paris, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also called a ministerial meeting.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned “the despicable terrorist attacks.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in this terrible moment for the French people, he would like to condemn, on behalf of the Chinese government and Chinese people, the barbaric act in the strongest possible terms.
In Vatican, Rev. Federico Lombardi said the violence was “an attack on peace for all humanity.”
He said it requires “a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread of homicidal hatred in all of its forms.”
Lombardi said the Vatican was praying for the victims and the wounded, “and for all the French people.”
Italy raises terror alert after IS threat
Italy has raised its terror alert amid a threat that Rome will be targeted by IS next.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said that the national committee on order and public security would meet later in the day.
Within hours of the attacks in Paris, IS supporters took to Twitter to gloat about the atrocity and claim that “London, Washington DC and Rome” are next on the list.
Rome, particularly the Vatican, has received persistent threats from IS group over the past year.
In Spain, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called an emergency meeting of Spain’s National Security Council to discuss tightening security measures and raising the terror alert in the country.
“There is no cause that justifies this (attacks). We are in a struggle between civilization and brutality. Today, we are all France,” Rajoy said. “We will win. They can hurt us, but they will not win.”
Frenchman ‘with gun’ detained at Gatwick
A 41-year-old man from France is being questioned by police after “what appears to be a firearm” was discovered at Gatwick airport, Sussex police said.
“Due to an incident – the North Terminal has been evacuated as a precautionary measure,” said the airport’s official Twitter account.