Three coordinated attacks shattered a bustling Friday night in Paris, killing at least 129 people and turning the French capital into a war zone.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, and French President Francois Hollande vowed a “merciless” response to what he called an “act of war.”
More than 350 people were injured, about 100 of them critically, according to the Associated Press, in a series of attacks that lasted little more than half an hour.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Saturday that three teams, wearing explosive vests and armed with Kalashnikov rifles, first set off bombs near the national stadium, then gunmen killed 37, targeting crowded cafes and spraying the trendy neighborhood with bullets, according to the AP.
The bloodiest scene of the night was at the Bataclan music hall, where California rock band Eagles of Death Metal was playing a concert. The attackers, the AP writes, “opened fire on the panicked audience and took members hostage. As police closed in, three detonated explosive belts, killing themselves, according to Paris police chief Michel Cadot.”
The dead include citizens of the United States, Chile, Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom and others, according to various media reports.
Landmarks around the world Saturday lit up in the Tricolor French Flag, including the Sydney Opera House, Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue and One World Trade Center in New York City, the AP reports.
Media reports indicate that seven suicide bombers were involved in the attacks and that authorities found a Syrian passport next to the body one of the attackers at the national stadium.
The Paris prosecutor said another attacker, a 29-year-old French national, had been identified by his fingerprints and, the AP notes, “had been flagged in 2010 for ties to Islamic radicalism.” Police detained that man’s family, and authorities in Belgium also arrested three people for possible connection to the attacks.
The French president quickly declared a state of emergency and put up checkpoints along the country’s borders. In a nationally televised address, Mr. Hollande said, “This is a terrible ordeal that again assails us.”
He told the French people, according to the AP translation, “We know where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are.”
By Sunday, thousands of troops were deployed across Paris and tourist sites and other popular spots remained closed.
The attacks across the Atlantic came mid-afternoon Friday as people in the Cayman Islands readied for Pirates Week. Almost all the high ranking government ministers were on Cayman Brac to christen a new airplane when the bombs and shooting began in Paris.
Alastair Swarbrick, former auditor general for the Cayman Islands and now living in Paris, said he and his family are safe and sound, but the city is different this weekend. He lives about three miles from the attacks.
In an email Sunday, Mr. Swarbrick wrote, “On Saturday it is fair to say Paris seemed subdued. We stayed close to home, but people were out and about going about their daily business.
“However, the streets were definitely a lot quieter and a lot of shops seemed to be closed or at least closed earlier, and the restaurants in the evening were a lot quieter. In our area, many people had put candles on their apartment window ledges and balconies.”
He continued, “Today, the local Sunday market didn’t take place, so again our local area is quieter than normal, but people do seem to be out trying to get back to normal, whatever that is after such tragic and horrific events.”
Cayman is home to more than 100 French nationals, according to Sebastien Guilbard, the honorary French consul for the Cayman Islands. Many of Cayman’s French population and others have connections to Paris and have drunk wine along the boulevards of the 10th arrondissement or seen a football match at the national stadium.
Mr. Guilbard said he was not able to comment officially, except to say that he has raised the French flag at his home in Prospect.
Jerome Begot, a Frenchmen who owns the Cayman Islands Helicopters tour company, said his family and friends in Paris are safe. He said he’s heard from people in Paris that “the climate is very tense, people are scared.”
Familiar with the area, Mr. Begot said the 10th district is “a very popular area to go out on Friday or Saturday night.” But, he said, “We knew this was coming again one day,” referring to the attack 10 months ago on the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher grocery in Paris. Twenty died in that attack, including the three gunmen.
“We’re lucky to be in Cayman,” Mr. Begot said, in an interview Saturday afternoon.