No place is safe. You can be hit anywhere where people gather. This seemed to be the message of the six co-ordinated attacks in Paris on a sports stadium, a concert hall, three restaurants and a shopping centre. As the Paris metro ground to a stop, as air and sea ports were closed, as the streets emptied, as France closed its borders, and as the army fanned out onto the streets of Paris the terrorists’ strikes seemed to be successful.
Coverage is everywhere. The BBC has a blow by blow account, finishing with a chronology. They also have live updates. The Guardian has collected its coverage on this site. Please share sites that you have found of interest.
At least 120 people have been killed, I’ve seen estimates as high as 158. The purpose seemed to be to kill as many people as possible. eight terrorists have been killed. Three at the Bataclan concert venue exploded their suicide vests.
- France is one of the European countries from which hundreds of Isis recruits, often French-born and educated and sometimes converts, have travelled to Syria. Online radicalisation has been growing – a phenomenon not unlike a sect. A lot of this plugs, of course, into a social and economic context of high youth unemployment, especially in suburbs, and racist discrimination against Arabs and Africans.
Muslims in France will now increasingly fear being associated with fanaticism and terror. Populist, far-right groups may well fuel more hatred. After Charlie Hebdo, thousands of French soldiers were dispatched across the country to secure key installations, schools, train stations, institutions.
It will be key for French officials now to send the signals that might prevent the kind of social dislocation and national breakdown that those who orchestrated this latest onslaught are no doubt trying to provoke.
For the wider European scene and the west, what has happened in Paris can only be a watershed and many will see it as a crude, violent, traumatic reminder of the fact we all still live in the post-9/11 era.
At the BBC live coverage Europe Correspondent Damian Grammaticas asks some questions:
- What happened in Paris last night is exactly what Europe’s security services have long feared, and tried to foil. Simultaneous, rolling attacks, with automatic weapons and suicide bombers in the heart of a major European city, targeting multiple, crowded public locations. These tactics have been used before in Mumbai and elsewhere. But how they’ve come to Europe many questions will have to be answered. Were the attackers French citizens, if so, how they were radicalised, armed and organised? In France, in Syria, by whom? Why weren’t they detected? Is France, after two major attacks this year, uniquely vulnerable? Or does the carnage in Paris mean all of Europe faces new threats to our public places and events? And if a Syrian link is proven, will France recoil from that conflict or will it redouble its commitment to the fight against radical groups there?
That was at 06:54. At 10:04 Francois Hollande has said that Islamic State was behind the attack in Paris, which he called an “act of war”. He also said the attacks had been planned and organised from abroad with help from inside France.
About an hour later, at 11:02, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.
- In a statement published online, the jihadist group said the attacks were designed to show France it remained a “top target”.
Perhaps, but it certainly seems likely the attackers had some outside help.
Perhaps France has indeed been attacked because it has been more active than the rest in tackling Syria.
There was a feeling in the German press coverage that a line had been crossed. Europe would never be the same again.
It seems to me that the only way the authorities can prevent such strikes is by good intelligence, and that means getting friendly with the local mainstream Muslim population.
It seems to me that closing borders within the Schengen group of countries will be difficult and disruptive. Hollande gave a fine speech saying that “our fight will be merciless”, but it’s not immediately apparent what form the fight will take, or what his security forces are doing when are “staging an assault”.
Malcolm Turnbull was generally supportive, an improvement on what that other bloke would have said.
Finally, I’m with Jeremy Corbyn, who said:
- My thoughts are with the victims in Paris tonight. We stand in solidarity with the French. Such acts are heinous and immoral.
And finally, finally, here’s the Sydney Opera House in the colours of the French flags: