Belgian police have taken three individuals into custody, who are connected to a vehicle seen near one of the attack sites.
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PARIS — French authorities said Saturday that three terrorist teams carried out the highly coordinated attacks on the streets of Paris that left 129 people dead — including at least one American — and more than 350 people injured.
The French newspaper Le Monde and CNN identified one of the suicide bombers in the attacks as Ismael Omar Mostefai. CNN attributed the identification to a French member of Parliament. Mostefai lived in the French city of Chartres at least until 2012, said Jean-Pierre Gorges, who is mayor of the city as well as a member of Parliament, CNN reported.
The investigation has also yielded the identity of a French radical among the killers, one person with a Syrian passport and a tip that led Belgian authorities to arrest three people linked to the massacres. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said several terrorists — wearing identical suicide vests — died during the attacks late Friday, including one killed by French police and two who detonated their vest as security forces closed in.
“We can say at this stage of the investigation there were probably three coordinated teams of terrorists behind this barbaric act,” he said at a news conference late Saturday.
Molins raised the death toll to 129, including 89 killed after terrorists stormed the Bataclan concert hall. Another 352 people were injured, including 99 who remained in critical condition, he added.
Nohemi Gonzalez, 20, a college student from California was among the dead, according to California State University in Long Beach, where she went to school.
Earlier, Mark Toner, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, confirmed some Americans were also among the injured, but would not elaborate. “The United States Embassy in Paris is working around the clock to assist American citizens affected by this tragedy,” Toner said in a statement.
Another American woman, identified as Helen Jane Wilson, formerly of New Orleans, was undergoing surgery late Saturday at a Paris hospital after being wounded in the leg at the Bataclan, the Associated Press reported.
Molins said the attacks were carried out by seven terrorists operating in three separate but highly coordinated teams. It began at the Stade de France, or National Stadium, at 9:20 p.m. when a suicide bomber ignited his vest outside while a friendly soccer match between France and Germany was being played inside.
Shortly after, a gunman armed with an automatic rifle stepped out of a black car and opened fire in Paris’s 10th arrondissement, killing 15 people. Molins said 100 cartridges were found at the site.
A third attack occurred at a bar in the adjoining 11th arrondissement, where five people were killed and 8 injured. Individuals also opened fire from a black vehicle at yet another restaurant, killing 19 people sitting on a terrace.
Most of the victims were found at the Bataclan concert hall, where a performance by the California rock band Eagles of Death Metal was underway. Molins said the terrorists, who had parked their car in front, “burst into the room, shot into the air … and took hostages in front of the band.” He said 89 people were killed before French police stormed the building.
Police killed one of the gunman while the other two detonated their suicide vests.
Molins said authorities had identified one of the terrorists as a 30-year-old Frenchman known to security forces as having been radicalized. The terrorist, from the town of Courcouronnes, 15 miles south of Paris, was identified through fingerprints.
“We have to find who these people are, who their accomplices are, who ordered this, where they come from, how they were financed,” he said.
Meanwhile, a tip from witnesses who spotted the terrorists’ car — with Belgian plates — at the theater led Belgian authorities Saturday to arrest three men. Molins said the car had been rented to a Frenchman living in Belgium who was identified in a spot check by police as he drove across the Belgian border with two others.
The French newspaper Liberation, quoting a spokesperson for the Greek government, also reported that a Syrian passport belonging to a migrant who passed through Greece was found on the body of a suicide bomber. Greek deputy public order minister Nikos Toskas confirmed in a statement that the document passed through Greece on Oct. 3. It was not immediately clear if the name on the passport was that of the dead terrorist.
A 51-year-old man arrested last week after firearms, explosives and hand grenades were found in his car near the border between Germany and Austria had also been linked to the Paris attacks, Ludwig Waldinger, a spokesman for Bavarian state police, told the AP. “He has refused to say what he planned to do or where the weapons came from,” Waldinger said.
French President Francois Hollande called the murderous spree “an act of war” by the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, ISIS and its Arabic name Daesh.
“France will be pitiless concerning the barbarity of Daesh,” he said. Hollande declared a state of emergency and ordered 1,500 extra troops to guard buildings and schools.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve authorized local authorities to impose curfews if needed and said in a televised address Saturday that authorities are banning all public demonstrations until Thursday.
Paris streets were largely empty Saturday, with theaters, cafes and some Metro stations closed. Major tourist sites, like the Eiffel Tower, were closed indefinitely. At least a dozen scheduled concerts, including a performance by the Irish rock group U2, were canceled in the capital.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility, calling the attacks a “blessed battle” of revenge for France participation in a U.S.-led coalition against militant targets in Syria and Iraq. Its propaganda arm released statements in Arabic, French and English that praised the killings, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based organization that monitors jihadist activity online.
“Allah granted victory upon their hands and cast terror into the hearts of the crusaders in their very own homeland,” the statement said. The Islamic State said eight “brothers” were armed with assault rifles and wore explosives belts that they detonated when they ran out of ammunition.
The terrorist group also said the targets around Paris were “precisely chosen,” describing the rock concert as “hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice.”
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Saturday that the policies of some Western countries — including France — in the Middle East were partly responsible for the expansion of terrorism. He urged Hollande to change his policies and “work for the interest of the French people.”
Assad said his country warned three years ago what would happen in Europe if the West continued to support “terrorists” in Syria. Assad describes all armed factions in Syria as “terrorists,” including rebel groups fighting his government.
The bloodiest day for France since World War II came just 11 months after 16 people were killed in terror attacks on the Paris offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store. A police officer was also shot dead by a militant between those attacks.
Meanwhile in Washington, National Security Council aides told President Obama on Saturday there was no immediate threat to the United States in the wake of the attacks, the White House said.
Contributing: Stanglin and William Cummings reported from McLean, Va., and Jane Onyanga-Omara from London.
Kim Hjelmgaard reports from outside the Baclatan music club where dozens of people were killed in Paris.
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A college student from California, Nohemi Gonzalez, was among those killed in Friday’s terror attacks in Paris. The university released a statement on Facebook, offering condolences to the family.
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Far away from the horrors of the Paris terrorist attack, people in Los Angeles express their support and prayers for Parisians affected by the attacks.
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Le Monde journalist Daniel Psenny filmed the injured who tried to escape the Bataclan concert venue. (Editors note: USA TODAY does not regularly show graphic images, however the news value of this particular video outweighs such considerations.)
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Cities around the world lit up in the colors of the French flag on Friday to show their support and solidarity with those affected by the terrorist attacks in Paris.
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A spectator who was inside the Stade de France, north of Paris, when the stadium was targeted by explosions on Friday night described how, initially, “no-one reacted at all” as it was unclear what had happened. (Nov. 14)
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French President Francois Hollande is meeting top government and security officials after suicide bombers targeted a stadium, concert hall and Friday night cafe crowds in attacks that killed at least 120. (Nov. 14)
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At least 35 people were killed Friday in shootings and explosions around Paris, many of them in a popular concert hall where patrons were taken hostage, police and medical officials said. (Nov. 13)
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Nov. 13 — Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. ambassador, discusses the multiple acts of violence in Paris. He speaks with Bloomberg’s Alix Steel and Mark Crumpton.
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Nov. 13 — James Woolsey, former CIA director, reacts to the multiple acts of violence in Paris.
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President Obama delivered a statement on the terrorist attack in Paris on Friday and called the act an “attack on all humanity.”
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Police officials in France on Friday reported a shootout in a restaurant and an explosion in a bar near a Paris stadium. It was unclear if the events were linked but several are reported dead. (Nov. 13)
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AP photographer Jerome Pugmire describes the scene inside a Paris stadium following a bombing near France’s national stadium during a soccer match. (Nov. 13)
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Two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium north of Paris during a France-Germany friendly football match. (Nov. 13)
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A somber mood in Paris after attacks
California student killed in Paris terror attacks
Half a world away people in America react to Paris attacks
GRAPHIC CONTENT: People flee Paris’ Bataclan concert venue
World Stands by Paris by Representing French Flag in World Landmarks
Witness: Confusion Inside Stadium After Attack
Scenes Of Horror As Paris Becomes A Bloodbath
Raw: Police Near Paris Hostage Scene
How should the U.S. respond to the Paris attacks?
Hollande says France closing borders after attacks
Obama: Attack on Paris is ‘attack on all humanity’
Raw: French Police say Paris shootout, explosion
AP Photographer Describes Scene Inside Stadium
Raw: Numerous Dead in Paris Attacks
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