Paris Prosecutor Outlines Attack, Says 3 Arrests Were Made In Belgium

November 14, 2015
Elite police officers arrive outside the Bataclan theater in Paris, France.

The death toll in a coordinated and ruthless attack on six different targets in and around Paris has risen to 129, with 352 people injured, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins. He added that 99 people were critically wounded.

Speaking nearly 24 hours after the start of Friday night's attacks, Molins outlined the sequence of the attacks, and said investigators had traced records related to one of the vehicles they used to Belgium, where three arrests were made.

Saying that investigators believe the attackers were organized in three teams, Molins said that camera footage had allowed investigators to target two cars: a black Fiat and a black VW Polo with a Belgian license plate.

"This [Polo] vehicle was rented by a French citizen in Belgium," Molins said, according to the translation by broadcaster France 24. "This person was seen on a different vehicle, was checked by police in actually a third vehicle — neither the Polo nor the Fiat — [with] two other persons living in the area of Brussels. They were checked at the border between France and Belgium."

Paying tribute to the actions of Belgium's authorities, Molins later added, "The three individuals who had been seen this morning have been arrested."

The three, he said, had not previously been known to French authorities.

The prosecutor did not go into more detail about those events, saying that the investigation is continuing. He did not take questions.

Update at 1:30 pm ET:  An American was among those killed

A California woman studying abroad was among those killed in the Paris terror attacks this weekend.
 
According to a California State University spokesman, 23-year-old Nohemi Gonzalez was a junior studying design at California State University, Long Beach.
 
She was on a university exchange program at Strate College of Design in France.  he university was notified of her death by French school officials and confirmed the death with her parents.
 
The school president issued a statement saying she was saddened by the death of Gonzalez.   Gonzales was an El Monte resident.

Update at 1:25 p.m. ET: Arrests In Belgium

Three people were arrested in Belgium, where police had traced a rented Polo car with a Belgian license plate that was seen arriving at the Bataclan music hall, Molins confirmed.

Update at 1:22 p.m. ET: Attacker Identified

An attacker identified by fingerprints was born in 1985 in France, had previously been found guilty of several crimes "and was considered a radicalized person," Molins said, according to the France 24 translation.

Molins confirmed that a Syrian passport that was found at the Stade de France site, for a person born in 1990.

He added that the attackers used "war-type weapons" including Kalashnikov rifles and identical explosive devices that used "TATP," a type of volatile explosive. He said that the devices had identical buttons for triggering the devices.

Update at 1:20 p.m. ET: Sequence Of Attacks

The first casualties reported were around 9:20 p.m. local time, when a suicide bomber and another person who was standing nearby died in an explosion outside the Stade de France, Molins says.

The next part of the attack unfolded outside of cafes, where assailants in a Fiat car opened fire on people, Molins said, relaying instances of hundreds of bullet casings being found at several scenes.

Twenty minutes after the initial attack, gunmen entered the Bataclan concert hall and opened fire on the crowd there, Molins said, later adding that 89 people died at the venue.

Molins added that as they attacked, the terrorists also mentioned Syria and Iraq.

Molins said that the inquiry is still only in its early phases, adding that there are multiple lines of investigation ongoing.

Update at 1:12 p.m. ET: 129 Killed, Paris Prosecutor Says

The death toll in Friday's coordinated and ruthless attack on six different targets in and around Paris has risen to 129, with more than 300 people injured, according to Paris prosecutor Francois Molins.

He added that the number could continue to fluctuate, due to the number of people who were badly hurt.

Our original post continues:

Earlier Saturday, Belgium's Justice Minister Koen Geens said that police had carried out "multiple searches and arrests" related to a Belgian license plate on a car that was reportedly used in Friday night's attacks.

Belgian newspaper The Last Hour has reported that police are interested in three young people who may have been involved in the terrorist attack.

Earlier Saturday, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack — shortly after the French President Francois Hollande accused the violent extremist group of coordinating the attacks, which he called an "act of war.";

Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET

As Paris assesses the full toll of Friday night's terrorist attacks that hit six locations in and around the city, here's what we know so far:

The Victims

The attacks killed 128 people, French officials say, and left hundreds more wounded. The victims were attacked at several sites across the French capital:

— At least 80 were massacred at the Bataclan, a concert venue where the American rock band Eagles Of Death Metal was playing. Witnesses reported a horrific scene as multiple gunmen fired into the crowd and audience members scrambled for cover or an exit. French authorities said the gunmen eventually turned the attack into a hostage situation that ended after several hours.

— A few people were killed in explosions — which authorities describe as suicide bombings — outside the national soccer stadium. The French national team was taking on Germany at the time of the blasts, with Hollande in attendance. Law enforcement officials in the U.S. and France told NPR's Dina Temple-Raston that the increased security detail because of the president's presence may have dissuaded the attackers from trying to enter.

— Others were killed on the sidewalks outside of at least three restaurants in central Paris, in an area one writer described as "proletarian and ethnically mixed," and with nightlife that typically attracts city-dwellers rather than tourists. The onset of the weekend, combined with the high-profile soccer game being televised, likely meant bars and restaurants were very full.

— Scores more people were injured, dozens severely, in the attacks across the city.

Americans are among the victims. The U.S. government "is working closely with French authorities to identify American victims," says State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner. He says the embassy is working to help Americans who were injured.

The Attackers

— Police say eight attackers died Friday night, most of them killed by explosives they were wearing. Authorities have said that they believe all the attackers are dead, although accomplices might still be at large.

— Hollande is calling the attacks an "act of war" committed by the Islamic State.

— Shortly after Hollande spoke, ISIS released a statement saying it was behind the attack, and that eight suicide bombers had been involved, according to SITE Intelligence, which monitors jihadist groups.

— Bavarian police say a 51-year-old man who was arrested on Nov. 5 is linked to the attacks in Paris. He was stopped at the border crossing with Austria, driving a car that contained explosives and weapons "hidden away in compartments within the car," NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, citing local media reports. German public radio says "the guy had documents that suggest he was in fact linked here to the Paris attacks," Soraya says, adding that before he was arrested, the man had evidently been heading to Paris.

— French police officials tell the AP that a Syrian passport was found on the body of one of the suicide bombers.

— Some of the attackers were killed when police stormed the concert venue in order to end the hostage situation, French authorities say.

— The attackers' weapons included automatic rifles and explosives, likely deployed as suicide bombs.

— Law enforcement officials tell Dina that the coordination of this attack is beyond anything shown by the so-called Islamic State or its affiliates so far.

French Reaction

— France's soccer federation says that the national team's next scheduled game, on the road against England at Wembley Tuesday, will go ahead as planned.

— On Saturday, hundreds of Paris residents were lining up to donate blood and looking for other ways to help those affected by the attack. Last night, a social media campaign called for people to "open doors" to anyone needing shelter in the city.

— President Francois Hollande declared three days of national mourning and ordered that flags should be flown at half-staff. He also enacted tighter border restrictions, although airports were still operating with increased security and Eurostar train service continued.

— More than 1,000 French soldiers were deployed across Paris Friday night.

— Hollande "vowed to be 'merciless' with the nation's foes," in a statement Friday night, the Associated Press reported.

— Much of France's subway system has been shut down and is expected to remain closed on Saturday. The city government reported via Twitter that almost all city facilities and offices would be closed on Saturday, including museums and libraries.

— With the closure of the subway, there were reports that French taxi drivers were offering free rides, and a hashtag circulated on Twitter offering safe places to stay to those stuck on the streets.

In The United States

— In a televised speech, President Obama called the attack "outrageous" and pledged U.S. support to France. He reiterated that offer in a later phone call with Hollande.

— Fans of the band that had drawn a sold-out crowd to a show that ended in horror Friday are relieved to hear that the members of Eagles Of Death Metal are safe and accounted for. A member of the California-based band announced they had regrouped, after being split up in the confusion.

— Other reactions in the U.S. include those by elected officials who are split predictably along party lines, reports NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Democrats will have a high-profile chance to offer their thoughts on the attacks tonight, thanks to a previously scheduled debate at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

Elsewhere

Governments and officials from around the world condemned the attacks, moments of silence were observed at several other international soccer matches and sporting events, and many major buildings and monuments were lit up in French colors — though some images circulating on social media were taken days or years earlier.

Story source: NPR