The three students studying abroad in Paris this semester are safe.
“TCU’s Study Abroad staff has reached out to our students studying abroad and from what we are hearing they are safe,” TCU Associate Director of Strategic Communications Holly Ellman said.
On Friday night Paris was under siege in what is becoming called the worst attack the city has seen since World War II.
Three teams of militants wearing identical “push-button” suicide vests killed 129 people. Around 352 other victims are reportedly hospitalized and 99 are in critical condition, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said.
A city under siege
At around 9:15 p.m. a suicide bomber triggered an explosion at the Stade de France in the north of Paris. In a report from the Wall Street Journal, a security guard at the stadium said the bomber triggered the bomb after he was denied entry.
Over the next hour shots were fired at restaurants around the city and at Bataclan, a music venue where American band Eagles of Death Metal played. Reports say shots were fired indiscriminately and around 80 people were held hostage and killed. Video showed people fleeing the theater and several appeared to be critically wounded.
“First of the storm”
The Islamic State claims responsibility for the attacks. An official statement released in Arabic and French on Saturday from the group said the attacks were designed to show that France would remain a top target as long as the current policies continue, the IS statement said.
“Eight brothers carrying explosive belts and guns targeted areas in the heart of the French capital that were specifically chosen in advance: the Stade de France during a match against Germany which that imbecile Francois Hollande was attending; the Bataclan where hundreds of idolaters were together in a party of perversity, as well as other targets,” the statement said.
“France and those who follow its path must know that they remain the principal targets of the Islamic State,” the statement added.
The group also hinted at the possibility of more attacks.
“The smell of death will never leave their noses as long as they lead the convoy of the Crusader campaign,” the statement said, adding that its members “are proud of fighting Islam in France and striking the Muslims in the land of the Caliphate with their planes, which did not help them at all in the streets of Paris and its rotten alleys, and this attack is the first of the storm and a warning to those who wish to learn.”
All eight attackers known so far died on Friday, seven by detonating suicide belts and one in a shootout with police.
Several people suspected to be involved with the attacks have been detained near the border of France and Belgium.
Belgium’s Justice Minister Koen Greens said several people have been detained. French media outlets also published unconfirmed reports that three of the attackers came from the Molenbeek neighbourhood in Belgium. Three arrests were made in Belgium, according to the Associated Press.
Police have neither confirmed the identities nor nationalities of the attackers. Molins said one of the men involved in the attack on the Bataclan concert hall was French. Syrian and Egyptian passports were found by two suicide bombers killed near the Stade de France.
French President Francois Hollande called Friday’s attacks an “act of war.”
“What happened yesterday in Paris and Saint-Denis near the Stade de France was an act of war,” Hollande said. “Faced with war, the country has to take appropriate steps. It’s an act of war which was committed by a terrist army – Daesh (IS) – an Islamist army, against France, against the values we uphold throughout the world, against who we are, a free country, which speaks to the whole planet.”
Hollande announced three days of national mourning.
A world united
Americans around the country and students at TCU have shown support for France.
Facebook has a new feature that allows users to insert the French flag over their profile picture. The hashtag #PrayforParis is trending on Twitter and Instagram. Monumental buildings from the Empire State Building in New York City to the Sydney Opera House in Australia are lighting up blue, white and red.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this tragedy,” Ellman said.