Speaking in a televised address to the nation on Saturday, French President François Hollande accused the Islamic State (IS) group of conducting a series of attacks in and around Paris late Friday that left at least 127 people dead.
Speaking from the Elysée presidential palace the morning after France saw its worst day of violence since World War II, Hollande said the attacks were “an act of war” committed by the Islamic State group’s “terrorist army”.
The French president said the atrocities were, “against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: A free country that means something to the whole planet.”
The Islamic State (IS) jihadist group claimed responsibility on Saturday for the series of apparently coordinated attacks in and around Paris.
Hollande went on to say that France would “triumph over the barbarism” of the IS militant group and “will act by all means anywhere, inside or outside the country”.
Hollande declared three days of national mourning in the wake of the attacks.
The Socialist president announced a state of emergency on Friday night as France reinstituted border checks.
Hollande said he would address parliament on Monday in an extraordinary meeting. France will also hold a minute’s silence Monday at noon for the victims of the Paris attacks.
IS group claims attacks
Shortly after Hollande’s address was broadcast live on major French TV stations, the IS group claimed the Paris attacks in a statement posted online.
The statement, issued in Arabic and French, said “eight brothers wearing explosive belts and carrying assault rifles” conducted a “blessed attack on … the Crusader France”.
The militant added that the attacks were designed to show France that it will remain a top target, saying France was guilty of “striking Muslims in the caliphate with their aircraft”. France is part of a US-led coalition conducting air strikes on IS jihadists in Syria and Iraq, where the group declared a caliphate last year after seizing areas of both countries.
The IS group has attracted thousands of foreign fighters, including nationals from Western European countries. French officials say more than a thousand nationals or residents have travelled to the conflict zone in Syria and Iraq.
‘This is a horror’
Gunmen and bombers attacked busy restaurants, bars and a concert hall at least six locations around Paris on Friday evening, killing at least 127 people. The apparently coordinated gun and bomb attacks came as the country, a member of the US-led coalition waging air strikes against Islamic State group fighters in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert for terrorist attacks ahead of a global climate conference due to open later this month.
Hollande, who was attending an international football match with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier when several explosions went off outside the Stade de France, declared a state of emergency in the Paris region and announced the closure of France’s borders.
“This is a horror,” the president said in a midnight television address to the nation before chairing an emergency cabinet meeting.
All emergency services were mobilised, police leave was cancelled and hospitals recalled staff to cope with the casualties.