Paris attacks one week on: What we know so far

People paying tribute at the Place de la Republique in Paris on Nov 19, 2015.
People paying tribute at the Place de la Republique in Paris on Nov 19, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

A week has passed since a series of terrorist strikes rocked Paris on Nov 13, leaving 129 dead and over 350 injured.

 

The attacks, perpetrated by heavily armed ISIS militants, sparked unprecedented scenes of solidarity across the globe, as people and nations stood united in the face of the brutal massacre.

France was able to savour a minor victory on Thursday (Nov 19), after it emerged that the alleged mastermind of the attacks had been killed during an anti-terror police operation the day before.

Here is a recap what we know so far, as well as how the world has changed, since the tragic night that still grieving Parisians have taken to calling Black Friday.

1. Seven hours of mayhem in a northern Paris suburb


The back of the badly damaged building in Saint-Denis. PHOTO: EPA

An anti-terror police operation conducted early Wednesday (Nov 18) morning successfully neutralised a new terrorist cell holed up in an apartment located in the Saint-Denis suburb.

The vicious firefight saw police fire nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition over seven hours against a group of suspects whom police sources claimed were planning a fresh attack on a shopping mall in the capital's La Defense business district.

At least two bodies were recovered - female suspect Hasna Ait Boulahcen, 26, who blew herself up with a suicide vest (she is also believed to be the cousin of the alleged mastermind of the attacks) and another body riddled with bullets - from the badly damaged building, while eight suspects were arrested.

2. Ringleader behind the attacks confirmed dead


Abdelhamid Abaaoud posing with a Quran and an ISIS flag in an undated video. PHOTO: EPA

The target of the police raid was purportedly the hideout of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind of the Nov 13 strikes.

In a statement on Thursday, the Paris prosecutor confirmed that the bullet-riddled body was that of Abaaoud, who is alleged to have been involved in four thwarted French terror plots earlier this year. It was unclear if he was killed by police or had taken his own life.

The 28-year-old Belgian of Moroccan origin is believed to be close to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and is thought to be the key link between the senior ISIS leadership and ISIS operatives based in Europe.

3. Who were the attackers?


Five of the Paris attackers, including alleged mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud (centre) and Salah Abdeslam (second from right), who is still at large. PHOTO: AFP

French authorities have said that seven militants took part in the attacks, amid rumours of an eighth suspect.

 

Two of the three attackers who stormed the Bataclan concert hall - the scene of the bloodiest attack that claimed the lives of 89 people - have been identified. They are French nationals Omar Ismail Mostefai, 29, and Samy Amimour, 28, both of whom blew themselves up.

Ibrahim Abdeslam, a 31-year-old French national living in Belgium, triggered his suicide vest outside the Comptoir Voltaire cafe on Boulevard Voltaire. He is the brother of 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam, another suspect who is on the run, and was spotted on video footage attacking the Casa Nostra pizzeria.

Syrian Ahmad al-Mohammad, 25, and French national Bilal Hadfi, 20, were among the rumoured three assailants who blew themselves up near the Stade de France.

Most of the attackers were said to have been wearing matching suicide vests and carrying AK-47 rifles.

4. Who were the victims?


Photos of 12 of the Paris attacks victims. PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/TWITTER/LINKEDIN

It was confirmed on Wednesday that all 129 people killed have been identified. The list of those who perished is evidence that the attackers targeted people regardless of their age, race or religion.

A Twitter account - @ParisVictims - set up by digital news website Mashable has dedicated a tweet to each of the victims, which comes with a simple description and the hashtag #enmémoire, which is French for "in memory".

5. ISIS rears its ugly head after quiet few months


Muslims holding up anti-ISIS signs during a protest in Mumbai, India. PHOTO: EPA

 

On Nov 14, the terrorist group distributed an undated video that threatened more attacks on France if it continued to bomb ISIS fighters in Syria. It released multiple statements later that day, claiming responsibility for the Nov 13 attacks and calling them "the first of the storm".

Two days later, it warned in a new video that countries taking part in air strikes against Syria would suffer the same fate as France, and threatened to attack Washington DC. Its latest threat was issued in a six-minute clip released on Thursday, when it threatened the White House with suicide bombings and car blasts, and vowed to conduct more attacks on France.

ISIS has also claimed responsibility for a string of deadly attacks leading up to the Paris strikes, including the fatal downing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt on Oct 31 and the twin suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon, on Nov 12 which killed 43 people.

6. Paris  and cities across the world on high alert


French soldiers patrolling the La Defense business district in Paris. PHOTO: EPA

The state of emergency in the French capital, which was declared by French President Francois Hollande in the immediate aftermath of the Nov 13 attacks, was extended for a further three months on Thursday.

French MPs also voted to allow the government to block websites and social media under emergency powers. Police officers who volunteer will be allowed to carry their service weapons even while off duty to "protect themselves and the population in public places".

As of Wednesday, 400 raids have been conducted by French police in an ever-widening dragnet of suspected Islamic militants, with 60 people arrested and a further 118 put under house arrest.


Armed police in Hanover, where a football friendly between Germany and Holland was called off due to a terror tip-off. PHOTO: REUTERS

Outside of France, security has been ramped up in Europe and in cities across the US. There have been several security scares in recent days: A Germany-Holland football match in Hanover on Tuesday was cancelled 91 minutes before kick-off due to a terror attack tip-off, while the Baker Street station on the London Tube had to be evacuated following a bomb scare on Thursday.

Reports said that Kenya and Uganda, having experienced attacks by Islamist militant group al-Shabab in recent times, have ordered their security forces to step up patrols. Countries in South-east Asia have also not been taking any chances - Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines have all raised their alert levels.

7. Liberté, égalité, fraternité

France's national motto of "liberty, equality and fraternity" has transcended into a rallying call for supporters everywhere. Memorial sites set up at the scenes of the attacks were covered under a mountain of flowers, while candlelight vigils were held at French embassies around the world.

National monuments and iconic buildings - such as the Sydney Opera House, London's Tower Bridge, Egypt's Great Pyramid and Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer statue - were bathed in the blue, white and red colours of the French national flag.


(Clockwise from top left) The Sydney Opera House, Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, Mexico's Municipal Palace of Puebla and Shangai's Oriental Pearl Tower. PHOTOS: EPA

The hashtag #PrayForParis was tweeted a record 6.5 million times on Twitter, and scores of Facebook users altered their profile photos to take in the tricolour French flag.

8. A united front against terrorism


Video footage showing Russian planes dropping bombs on targets in Syria. PHOTO: EPA

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping both made phone calls to Mr Hollande in the immediate aftermath of the attacks to pledge their support.

Following revelations on Tuesday that ISIS was responsible for the downing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt on Oct 31, France and Russia entered into an unlikely alliance to coordinate military efforts, and have since sent warplanes to bomb the ISIS stronghold in Raqa.


(From left) Italian PM Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Barack Obama, British PM David Cameron and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at a G20 Summit meeting. PHOTO: AFP 

At the G-20 summit held in Turkey, world leaders promised to tighten border controls, step up intelligence sharing and crack down on terrorist financing, although there was little sign of a dramatic shift in strategy against ISIS.

Anonymous, an international network of activist computer hackers, also entered the fray by declaring a cyber war on ISIS. "These attacks cannot remained unpunished," it said in a video posted online on Monday.

Sources: BBC, The Telegraph, CNN, Reuters, AFP