"It's a horror," French president says of attacks in Paris
PARIS - As the sun rose in France Saturday morning, the death toll was around 158 people in shootings and explosions around Paris.
The attacks Friday - around 10 p.m. in France - were the deadliest violence there in decades. There were six attacks that involved either shootings or bombings. At one location, around 100 people were taken hostage at a concert venue. The hostage situation ended and authorities said the eight terrorists were dead. Seven were killed in suicide bombings the other was killed by police.
One official described "carnage" inside the building where the hostages were kept, saying the attackers had tossed explosives at the hostages.
Hundreds of people spilled onto the field of the Stade de France stadium after explosions were heard nearby during a friendly match between the French and German national soccer teams. A stadium announcer made an announcement over the loudspeaker after the match, telling fans to avoid certain exits "due to events outside," without elaborating.
At first that prompted some panic, but then the crowds just walked dazed, hugging each other and looking at their phones for the latest news of the violence. Many appeared hesitant to leave amid the uncertainty after France's deadliest attacks in decades.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that at this time there is no specific or credible threat to the United States, but they are actively monitoring the situation in Paris. In Baton Rouge, the State Police Fusion Center was monitoring the situation overnight.
"We're monitoring the French incidents and working all intelligence/information channels for situational awareness and threat info relative to Louisiana," a spokesperson told WBRZ News 2.
President Barack Obama called the attacks on Paris "outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians" and is vowing to do whatever it takes to help bring the perpetrators to justice.
Social media posts from purported ISIS supporters could indicate that "there was a group waiting for this, but it could be a group watching," former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said in an interview with MSNBC Friday night.
"I don't think we can say this proves anything, but again it supports the idea that it's terrorism," Chertoff said.
John Cohen, a former Homeland Security Department counterterrorism coordinator, said the presence of multiple attack scenes at the same time suggested a coordinated 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 ISIS have relied on the strategy of coordinated attacks in the past.
French President Francois Hollande says he is closing the country's borders and declaring a state of emergency after several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented terrorist attacks.
Hollande, in a televised address to his nation, said the nation would stand firm and united against the attackers.
"It's a horror," he said.
Students from a high school in Lafayette were traveling to France Friday night but canceled their trip just before they flew from Atlanta to Europe. The students are set to return to Louisiana.