Terror in Paris: 5 Things We Know About the Horrific Attacks

A concise look at events so far.

Paris, France was rocked by a stunning terror attack Friday night. A highly organized gang of suicide bombers and gunmen armed with automatic weapons struck in several locations, including the crowded Bataclan concert venue, where a show by the California rock band Eagles of Death Metal was underway. By the time police stormed the Bataclan in an attempt to rescue any surviving hostages within, the attackers had taken over 80 lives in that location alone.

On Saturday French president François Hollande said he blamed Islamic State (ISIS) for the attacks, and he may be correct to do so—CNN reported early Saturday that ISIS took credit for the terror. 

What we know:

The violence was “unprecedented.” The BBC reported early Saturday that the shootings, suicide bomb detonations and siege at the Bataclan left 127 dead across Paris and wounded 180. Eighty of the wounded are said to be in critical condition. Inside the Bataclan, several gunmen detonated suicide belts as police closed in. 

The terrorists struck six locations at once. The BBC reported that beginning around 9:20 PM in Paris, suicide bombers detonated outside the Stade de France, then to the south, gunmen swarmed through a part of the city noted for nightlife, shooting up Petit Cambodge restaurant and a neighboring bar, Le Carillon. They also struck La Casa Nostra, a pizza place, and La Belle Equipe Bar before they stormed the Bataclan. At least 12 were killed in the attack on Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon. The BBC reported 19 deaths at La Belle Equipe. The attack on the Bataclan was the most vicious and prolonged. Hostages trapped inside the venue posted pleas for help on social media and texted to friends, describing individual executions occurring as hostages lay on the floor. Citing French media sources, the BBC reported the Bataclan death toll was 82.

The Atlantic‘s Citylab created an interactive map of the locations, which we’ve embedded below.

France is in a state of siege and mourning. This would seem self-evident, but it’s also official. The New York Times reported Saturday that French president Hollande had declared “three days of national mourning.” Hollande also stated that troops would be on patrol throughout the City of Light. In a statement, Hollande also called the horrific attack “an act of war that was prepared, organized and planned from abroad, with complicity from the inside, which the investigation will help establish.” France is in a state of emergency. Borders are closed, and Paris is under mandatory curfew for the first time since World War II. 

There were eight attackers; all are dead. The BBC broke down their fates:

—Three blew themselves up and a fourth was shot by police at the Bataclan venue at the end of the concert siege

—Another blew himself up a short distance away from the concert hall on the Boulevard Voltaire

—Three more blew themselves up at eating places near the Stade de France (…)

The Islamic State has apparently taken credit, calling this the beginning of a “storm.”. Saturday morning The New York Times reported that ISIS definitely said they were behind the attacks in “statements released in multiple languages on one of the terror group’s encrypted messaging accounts.” The Times report indicated the terror group was just beginning with Paris, and its statement said, “Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the Islamic State.” 


For all the horror the extremists spread during their rampage, there were moments of great humanity from Parisians as well. One example: the hashtag #PorteOuverte (“open door”) was trending on Twitter as Friday turned into Saturday—it was an effort to let anyone stranded on the streets of the city know they could take shelter in a stranger’s home. The phrase began to take on a wider meaning as air travel restrictions were put in place. Americans, Canadians, residents of other EU states adopted the hashtag as a way to offer shelter to anyone who had planned to return home to France  but ended up stranded in their region.

Events were still unfolding early Saturday, with world leaders and major cities like New York and London on edge. All eyes were still on Paris, but deeply worried as to where they might turn next. 

Photos by Christophe Ena / AP Photo