(CNSNews.com) – France woke Saturday shaken by Europe’s greatest loss of life at the hands of Islamic terrorists since the Madrid bombing 11 years ago – at least 120 people killed in six evidently coordinated gun and bomb attacks over a three-hour period, including a horror scenario in which terrorists held concert-goers hostage, gunned down dozens and detonated explosive belts.
At the Bataclan Theater, at least 75 people attending a concert by a U.S. rock band were killed and many more injured, according to authorities. Eyewitnesses spoke of two young men armed with AK47 assault rifles firing repetitively and dispassionately into the crowded venue, targeting helpless victims cowering on the floor.
Julien Pearce, a radio reporter who was inside the concert hall, told CNN he saw two terrorists at the back of the venue, “firing randomly to the crowd. People yelled, screamed, everybody lying on the floor. And it lasted for ten minutes, ten minutes, ten horrific minutes, where everybody was on the floor covering their heads.”
“We heard so many gunshots. The terrorists were very calm, very determined, and they reloaded three or four times their weapons. They didn’t shout anything, they didn’t say anything,” he said. “They were unmasked, and they were wearing black clothes, and they were shooting at people on the floor, executing them …”
Pearce said he had managed to escape via the stage during a lull in firing as the terrorists reloaded.
Police said four attackers were killed at the Bataclan – three had detonated bomb vests and a fourth, who was also fitted with a bomb vest, was shot dead when police stormed the venue.
Elsewhere, gunmen opened fire at patrons at city restaurants, and suicide bombers detonated their explosives near the country’s national stadium, Stade de France, where French President Francois Hollande was among a large crowd watching a soccer game between France and Germany.
According to a spokeswoman for the Paris Prosecutor:
--Three suicide bombers blew themselves up near the stadium, apparently killing no others;
--Nineteen people were shot dead by two gunmen at a restaurant in Rue Charonne in the 11th district of central Paris;
--Fourteen people were killed by one or more gunmen at a restaurant in nearby Rue Alibert;
--Five people were shot dead in a restaurant in Rue de la Fontaine au Roi, also nearby;
--One person was killed in the Boulevard Voltaire;
--At the Balaclan Theater, also on Boulevard Voltaire, around 75 people were killed, along with the four attackers.
The spokeswoman said of a total of eight terrorists killed, seven had blown themselves up at various attack locations.
Hollande declared a state of emergency – only the sixth time in France the measure has been decreed since 1955 – and tightened controls at the country’s borders.
“These terrorists that are capable of such atrocities need to know that they will be confronted by a France that is determined and unified,” Hollande told journalists, “and a France that will not allow itself to be overawed – even if today it is expressing infinite amount of emotion at this drama and this tragedy, which was an abomination and a barbaric act.”
President Obama called the attacks an “attack on all of humanity.”
“This is a heart-breaking situation, and obviously those of us here in the United States know what it’s like,” he said. “We’ve gone through these kinds of episodes ourselves, and whenever these kinds of attacks happen, we’ve always been able to count on the French people to stand with us.”
“They have been an extraordinary counter-terrorism partner, and we intend to bear with them in that same fashion,” Obama said.
According to U.S. Central Command, France is one of the few partners in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) that has joined the U.S. in carrying out airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria.
Earlier this month Hollande announced that he was deploying the flagship of the French Navy, the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, to the eastern Mediterranean in support of the airstrikes.
Across the world – from Auckland to Rio de Janeiro to New York to London – landmarks were lit up in the French colors – red, white and blue – in solidarity with the people of France.