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Police forces and rescuers near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, early on 14 November 2015.  Photo: AFP
Police forces and rescuers near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, early on 14 November 2015. Photo: AFP

Paris terror attacks: 127 killed, France declares emergency

Motive, the group behind the major terror strikes is still not clear; state of emergency declared in and around Paris to carry out security operations

New Delhi: At least 127 people are feared to have been killed in multiple terror attacks by Islamic state in Paris on Friday.

In its claim of responsibility, Islamic State said the attacks were a response to France’s campaign against its fighters.

The worst incident was reported from the Bataclan concert hall where around 100 people were killed where the terrorists using guns and bombs took a number of hostages eventually killing some of them.

Other attacks were reported from a stadium where France was playing a football match against Germany in addition to four other locations. A state of emergency has been declared in and around Paris to carry out security operations and residents have been asked to stay indoors.

French President President Francois Hollande said the attackers would be fought “without mercy". British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was shocked by the attacks and would do whatever possible to help France. US president Barack Obama said,“Once again, we’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians. This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share."

A.K. Verma former chief of external intelligence agency R&AW said that there was a possibility that the Paris attack could be linked to France’s security operations in Syria. “It is possible that some terror groups like ISIS may have carried out this attack and could be possibly linked to France’s involvement in Syria. The Paris attack is similar to the 26/11 Mumbai terror in a lot of ways like multiple places being targeted. This attack clearly proves that no country in the world is safe from terror and we all need to co-operate on this issue. Paris was potentially a soft target considering the fact that there was an attack after the Charlie Hebdo episode in January so the security and intelligence agencies should have been more careful," Verma said.

A senior official of the Intelligence Bureau who did not wish to be identified said they were closely monitoring developments and “would take appropriate preventive security measures." “If required we will send out a detailed advisory to States to beef up security further. We had sent out an advisory before the start of the festive season as from security point of view this is a crucial time for us,"the official added.

Even though no one claimed responsibility for the attack sympathisers of terror outfit ISIS sent out celebratory messages on social networking sites.

The multiple terror strikes in Paris come just weeks ahead of the city hosting a major international conference on climate change known as Conference of Parties 21 or COP 21 in the Le Bourget area of Paris from 30 November-11 December.

A predominantly Christian country, France has practised secularism, following the position that the role of religion in public life is very limited, far less than in countries like Britain or the United States. French leaders have largely stayed away from public appearances with religious leaders. In the state education sector, religion and religious matters are frequently considered taboo subjects and any overt display of faith in terms of dress is disallowed in schools and universities. There are no religious education classes in French state schools, and no acts of worship.

The Indian community in France including non resident Indians is estimated to be around 106,000,

France has witnessed several terror attacks since January this year. The first was on 7 January when the Paris offices of magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published satirical illustrations of the prophet Mohammed, were stormed by two gunmen. They killed 11 people in the Charlie Hebdo office and several others as they escaped before being shot dead by the French police. One of the Charlie Hebdo attackers took over a Jewish kosher grocery store just outside Paris killing four people.

In June, a man placed on a French police surveillance list, drove a truck into a US-owned gas factory called Air Products in Lyon, triggering an explosion. The body of a man, later identified as the attacker’s boss was later found on the premises. And in August, a man armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and a knife was subdued by three American passengers on board a Paris-bound high-speed train, as he was apparently preparing to attack passengers. The three Americans were later honored by French President Francois Hollande.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently on a three day visit to Britain has condoled the loss of lives in the attack in Paris. “News from Paris is anguishing and dreadful. Prayers with families of the deceased. We are united with people of France in this tragic hour," a statement from his office said.

Modi in an another statement on Saturday evening condemned “the barbaric terrorist attacks in Paris in the strongest terms. More than hundred people lost their lives while they were doing what they loved, or spending time with their loved ones".

“We feel the shock, pain and outrage of the people of France. India stands firmly with the great people of France in dealing with this tragedy. And we must stand together as humanity in combating the major global threat of our times and to uphold our values and our way of life," he added.

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