Anywhere between 60 and 100 people were held hostage in a popular music venue, the Bataclan where there was a second round of gunfire last night amid reports of explosions inside. Police were storming the building last night, according to AFP.
Earlier, gunmen armed with Kalashnikov rifles, handguns, and grenades attacked at least seven locations across the city where sirens pierced the night.
Francois Hollande, the French president, declared a state of emergency .
At least one of the attacks wasreported to be a suicide bombing. However, witnesses were also reported as saying grenades were thrown outside the Stade de Fance in the north of the French capital where a friendly football match between France and Germany was under way.
France put 200 soldiers on the ground last night amid the carnage.
French daily newspaper Le Figaro reported that a dismembered corpse was found near the stadium, but an explosion may have been responsible. According to the Alliance police union, there were two “suicide attacks” outside the Stade de France at gate D and H with several believed dead in the aftermath.
The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny expressed his shock at the events unfolding in France.
“My thoughts and those of all the Irish people are with the French people this evening. As ever we stand as one with them and will never bend to the evil of terrorism.”
This is a shocking attack on humanity. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families. We stand with France tonight.— Enda Kenny (@EndaKennyTD) November 13, 2015
The first shooting to be reported took place at a Cambodian restaurant in the 10th arrondissement of the city, an area with crowded bars and restaurants. A second shooting was reported minutes later at the Bataclan concert venue near the Place de la Republique where gunmen were said to be holding hostages. Large numbers of police rushed to the scene of the first attack, evacuating nearby bars and restaurants.
The motive is unknown, but Parisians feared that terrorists had again attacked the French capital, where 17 people were killed in a series of attacks in January that began with the shootings of staff at the office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine.
Last night’s attacks are also likely to raise security concerns around the hosting next year by France of the UEFA Euro2016.
The Irish embassy in Paris has asked anybody who wishes to register concerns to ring 01 408 2000.
Paris was in lockdown last night after dozens of people were killed and 100 taken hostage at a theatre in the French capital.
President François Hollande declared a state of emergency and closed the nation’s borders. Hollande said military personnel are being deployed around the capital, with reports of 200 soldiers on the ground.
US president Barack Obama said: “We’ve seen an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians. This is an attack not just on Paris, it is an attack not just on the people of France, but it is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.”
Officials said shots were fired in at least two restaurants and at least two explosions were heard near the Stade de France stadium, where the national side was playing Germany in a friendly football match.
The tens of thousands of attendees were kept in the stadium as the situation unfolded.
The match had continued until the end but panic broke out in the crowd as rumours of the attack spread, and spectators were held in the stadium and assembled spontaneously on the pitch.
Hélicoptère, pelouse envahie, scènes surréalistes. pic.twitter.com/PT5HXyKbDK— Vincent Menichini (@v_menichini) November 13, 2015
There were reports of multiple shootings in central Paris. More than 100 people were taken hostage at the Bataclan theatre, a popular site for rock concerts.
John Cohen, a former US Homeland Security Department counter-terrorism co-ordinator, said the presence of multiple attack scenes at the same time suggested a co-ordinated effort to “send a message” and raises immediate terror concerns, including for other cities in Europe and potentially the United States as well.
He said both al-Qaida and Islamic State have relied on the strategy of co-ordinated attacks in the past.
Former CIA director R James Woolsey said France was being punished for supporting the fight against extremism.
He told BBC News: “The fact that France has been a good ally of the US and Britain in this struggle with ISIS to try to hold things down has worked to France’s detriment because it’s a lot easier to get to France from Syria and so forth than it is to get to the United States or even Britain.
“I think there is a very good chance that a flow of refugees, war refugees, whatever you want to characterise them as, out of the Middle East and especially out of Syria has created the background which makes something like what we’re seeing here possible.”
He added: “What’s interesting to me is the multi-point operation here, hostage taking in one place, gun fights in others, executions.
“This is put together not just by a group of crazy, emotional terrorists but by something looking a bit like part of a government that plans things carefully.
“I would think it would probably be ISIS. It wants to be a government.”
US president Barack Obama said his country would stand with France in fight against terrorism and extremism.
Eyewitness Ben Grant said he was in a bar with his wife when the gunshots were fired and he had seen six or seven bodies on the ground.
He told the BBC: “I was told people in cars had opened fire on the bar. There are lots of dead people. It’s pretty horrific to be honest.
“I was at the back of the bar. I couldn’t see anything.
“I heard gunshots. People dropped to the ground. We put a table over our heads to protect us.
“We were held up in the bar because there was a pile of bodies in front of us.”