Paris (AsiaNews) - " Here in the Vatican we are following the terrible news from Paris. We are shocked by this new manifestation of maddening, terrorist violence and hatred which we condemn in the most radical way together with the Pope and all those who love peace", writes Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, in a statement released in the immediate aftermath of the bloody attacks in Paris last night that left at least 120 dead and over 200 injured.
French President Francois Hollande has declared a state of emergency and suspended the Schengen Treaty; closed borders and schools across the country. Hundreds of soldiers are patrolling the streets of a city in shock over the attacks which, in all probability, can be attributed to the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) who have claimed responsibility online.
Commenting on the carnage, the Vatican spokesman says: "We pray for the victims and the wounded, and for all the French people. This is an attack on peace for all humanity, and it requires a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread the homicidal hatred in all of its forms".
At least seven areas of the French capital were targeted in the terrorist attacks last night. The most serious incident involved the Bataclan club in Paris during the concert of an American rock band, the Eagles of Death Metal. Gunmen took hostage of more than a hundred people and massacred – shooting them one by one and giving praise to Allah, according to eye witness accounts - at least 80 people (according to preliminary estimates) have died.
Another series of attacks took place in an area not far from Piazza della Repubblica and the Bastille, in the X and XI Arrondissement, targeting cafes, bars, restaurants during their busiest time. Terrorists targeted customers in a pizzeria and a Cambodian restaurant, shooting them in cold blood.
Stade de France was also targeted, during a friendly match between France and Germany. At least three powerful explosions heard by spectators (over 80 thousand people in the stands) and players, a result of two suicide attacks and a exploded bomb. President Hollande was also among the spectators and was rushed from the stadium for fear of further explosions.
At present there is no official confirmation on casualties, but the French speak of at least seven armed attackers that have left at least 126 dead and 200 injured, 80 seriously. According to authorities all the terrorists died - blowing themselves up or in shoot outs with the security forces - but in this case there is no certain information and for several hours there was talk of bombers on the run and alarms in other areas of the city. The authorities of the French capital have urged citizens to stay at home and around 1,500 soldiers are rigt now patrolling the main roads.
International leaders - including US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon - were quick to express their condolences and their closeness to the government and to the French population under attack. Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani has decided to postpone the official visit to Italy and France, which was to start today; including his meeting with Pope Francis, scheduled for today at the Vatican in the context of the trip.
Last night’s massacre in Paris is just the latest in a long trail of blood that has hit France since 2015: January 7 an armed jihad attacked the headquarters of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, "guilty" of having published Muhammad cartoons, killing 12 people, including journalists and the director.
This was followed by a terrorist attack in Koulibaly in a kosher supermarket in Paris, which resulted in the deaths of four French citizens of Jewish origin.
Previously, on Dec. 22, 2014, a van drove into a crowd in Nantes, resulting in one death and 11 injured. The driver was later stabbed himself to death, shouting "Allah Akbar".
On June 26 an attacker targeted a gas plant in the industrial department of Isère, after beheading his boss. The intervention of the security forces prevented a massacre.
On August 21, two US soldiers averted another massacre on the Amsterdam-Paris train, near Arras, in the north. A 26 year-old of Moroccan origin, Ayoub el-Qahzzani, had attempted with a rifle to kill some passengers but was stopped just in time. The final toll was three non-serious injuries.
The last dramatic episode last night with a death toll (still provisional) of more than 120 dead