French Official Tells VOA: 67 Dead in Paris Attacks

VOA News

French President Francois Hollande has closed his country’s borders after a series of attacks across Paris late Friday killed dozens.

In a televised address, Hollande declared a state of emergency hours after the first attack.

A French police offical told VOA that 67 people have been confirmed dead in the attacks on restaurants and near a stadium. Officials say at least 15 people were killed at the Bataclan concert hall and several dozen hostages were taken. Later, shots were reported at Les Halles in central Paris.

The explosion in a bar near the national stadium [Stade de France] north of Paris occured as France was hosting a soccer match with Germany. Several people were reported dead in that attack.

Hollande was watching the match and evacuated.

International reaction

U.S. President Barack Obama called the attacks an “outrageous attempt to terrorize civilians.” In a televised address Friday evening, he said the United States stands with France to fight terrorism. He added that he chose not to call Hollande immediately after the attacks, but he is confident he will be in direct communication in coming day.

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said on twitter “We will do whatever we can do to help.” He said he was shocked by the events in Paris and his thoughts and prayers are with the French people.

The attacks come weeks before global leaders gather in Paris for talks on a U.N.-sponsored conference on climate change issues.

In January, 17 people were killed in Paris by gunmen with ties to Islamist extremism.

Last month, French Directorate for External Security Director Bernard Bajolet said at a forum that there are types of attacks that are difficult to detect.

“Things have changed since 9/11. For instance, during the last month we have disrupted a certain number of attacks on our territory by our own means or  thanks to the cooperation we have with CIA, NSA and so on. But this doesn’t mean that we will be able all the time to disrupt such attacks because of what I was saying,” he said.

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