Paris attacks: World reacts in shock, solidarity

A student holding up a "Pray for Paris" sign before a university football game in the US.
A student holding up a "Pray for Paris" sign before a university football game in the US. PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS
San Francisco City Hall is lit up with blue, white and red, the colors of the French flag, following the Paris terror attacks.
San Francisco City Hall is lit up with blue, white and red, the colors of the French flag, following the Paris terror attacks.PHOTO: REUTERS
A note reads " Liberty, equality, fraternity" near flowers placed outside French Embassy in Berlin.
A note reads " Liberty, equality, fraternity" near flowers placed outside French Embassy in Berlin.PHOTO: AFP
The French flag is seen at half mast at the embassy of France in Berlin Germany.
The French flag is seen at half mast at the embassy of France in Berlin Germany.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (REUTERS/AFP) - World leaders responded with shock and pledges of solidarity for France following the killing of scores of people in attacks in Paris on Friday (Nov 13) night, though there was little action any could immediately take.

The United Nations Security Council issued a statement condemning "barbaric and cowardly terrorist attacks" involving assailants using guns and bombs on several venues, including the national sports stadium and a major music venue.

Countries such as the United States, Britain, Spain and India, which have experienced their own mass-casualty attacks, were among the first to voice their condemnation.

Divided on many issues, including on the war in Syria that has fueled Islamist violence, the United States and Russia both voiced their support in messages to French President Francois Hollande.

"It's an attack not just on the people of France. But this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share," Mr Obama said in an address at the White House. "We're going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people."

"Once again we've seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians," he added. "We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need."

"Those who think that they can terrorise the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong," Mr Obama said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his deep condolences to Mr Hollande and all the people of France following the "horrible terrorist attacks in Paris", the Kremlin said in a statement. "Russia strongly condemns this inhumane killing and is ready to provide any and all assistance to investigate these terrorist crimes."

In London, where 52 people were killed and hundreds wounded in a series of coordinated suicide bombings in 2005, British Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I am shocked by events in Paris tonight. Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people. We will do whatever we can to help."

Mr Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, the foreign minister of Spain, where 191 people were killed in train bombings in 2004, raised the spectre of a militant attack. "All of this confirms that we are facing an unprecedented challenge, a hugely cruel challenge," he told public television TVE.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose foreign minister was attending a France-Germany soccer match with Hollande when the stadium was attacked, said, "I am deeply shaken by the news and pictures that are reaching us from Paris.

"The German government is in contact with the French government and has passed on a message of sympathy and solidarity from the German people."

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Italy stood by France after the attacks, which he said were against "all of humanity" and against "our way of life".

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose country was hit by two major attacks in 2006 and 2008 that saw a total of 355 people killed, said on Twitter the "news from Paris is anguishing & dreadful".

France's Jewish community was among the targets of the last attacks Paris in January and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added his voice to the condemnation.

"Israel stands shoulder to shoulder with French President Francois Hollande and with the people of France in our common battle against terrorism," he said. Mr Netanyahu told France's Jewish community - the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world - after the January attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket that they would be welcomed with open arms by Israel.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, where twin bombings on a peace rally in Ankara last month killed 102 people, offered his condolences. "As a country that knows very well the manner and consequences of terrorism, we understand perfectly the suffering that France is experiencing now," he said.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders tweeted: "Shocked and appalled by new attacks in #Paris. Words are not enough."

Turkey, which hosts a summit of world leaders this weekend, condemned the attacks as a crime against humanity and said it stood in full cooperation with France and its allies in the fight against terrorism. "These attacks are not only against the French people but all humanity, democracy, freedoms and universal values. Terror has no religion, no nationality and represents no values. Terrorism is a crime against humanity," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's office said in a statement.

"Turkey is in full cooperation with France and other allied countries in the fight against terrorism ... and we will fight with full determination."

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani strongly condemned the attacks, branding them "crimes against humanity" in a message to his French counterpart Hollande, official news agency Irna said.

"In the name of the Iranian people, who have themselves been victims of terrorism, I strongly condemn these crimes against humanity and offer my condolences to the grieving French people and government," Mr Rouhani wrote.

He also postponed his trip to Europe, according to an official.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad condemned the attacks, and said that such acts of terror were similar to what his people had faced in years of violent civil war. 

“What France suffered from savage terror is what the Syrian people have been enduring for over five years,” the Syrian President was quoted as saying on state media and Lebanese TV station al Mayadeen.

And in Australia, where a lone gunman reportedly shouting Islamist slogans killed a man outside police headquarters in Sydney last month, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said "this is indeed a black Friday for France and for the world".

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had earlier said that protecting freedom was a global battle. He said it was a battle against those who seek to suppress freedom and seek to assert "some form of religious tyranny; a threat in the name of God but is truthfully the work of the devil".

"In France and Australia, all around the world, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of France and with all free peoples in the battle against terrorism," Mr Turnbull said in a statement.

Elsewhere in Asia, where people woke up to the news from Paris, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said "this is a terrible assault on a beautiful city with warm, cheerful, hospitable people".

"We must not let the terrorists divide us or destroy our spirit. I know the French spirit will prevail," said Mr Balakrishnan, adding that he would be in Paris for global climate change talks starting at the end of this month.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak condemned the attacks. "Malaysia condemns the outrageous multiple terror attacks in Paris today on innocent civilians. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, citizens of France and President François Hollande.

"I am shocked with what happened in Paris but we must remain united in the war against terrorism," he said in a statement on Saturday morning.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai also tweeted: "My thoughts and prayers are with you Paris. #prayforparis."

 
 
 

Philippine President Benigno Aquino's government, which is preparing to host the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit from Nov 18 to Nov 19, said the Paris attacks demanded "heightened security from all of us".

"The attacks... showed not only premeditation but the cruelty that demands the greatest indignation from the world. The Philippines mourns the dead and stands shoulder to shoulder with France," Mr Aquino's spokesman Abigail Valte said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke of "these tragic times for the French people" as he condemned "in the strongest ways this barbarous act".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei added that Beijing was "profoundly shocked", saying "terrorism is a common challenge, which the whole (of) humanity is facing".

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan, for his part, condemned "this act of terror... this brutal carnage".

The Western defence alliance Nato said it stood with France, a founder member. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: "I am deeply shocked by the horrific terrorist attacks across Paris tonight. My thoughts are with the families of the victims, with all those affected, and with the people of France.

"We stand strong and united in the fight against terrorism. Terrorism will never defeat democracy."

In Brussels, the leaders of European Union institutions, which have been trying to coordinate security responses since the Islamist attacks in Paris in January, joined the chorus. "I am confident the authorities and the French people will overcome this new trial," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

On his Twitter account, Mr Juncker said: "I am deeply shocked by the events in Paris. We stand in full solidarity with the people of France."

In a later message to French President Francois Hollande, Mr Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg, said he was "revolted to see that France is at this same moment hit by the most odious terrorism".

Writing in French, he added: "I think about the victims, the wounded, the rescue (services). I trust the authorities and the French people to overcome this new ordeal together."

 
 
 

Other members of the European Commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation European Union in Brussels, have also reacted to the attacks.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, also writing in French, tweeted that she "is in the process of following with pain and dread the events in Paris".

Ms Mogherini, the multi-lingual former Italian foreign minister, added: "Europe is with France and the French people."

European Council President Donald Tusk said he will ensure the G-20 summit in Turkey over the weekend will respond to the threat of terrorism as both he and Mr Juncker prepared to represent the European Union at the event.

Mr Tusk wrote to Hollande saying France will not be alone in its fight against terrorism as the attacks were "an outrage" against not just France but all of Europe. "We will demand that world leaders meeting in the G20 in Antalya respond to the threat of extremist terrorism," the former Polish prime minister said.

"We will ensure that everything that can be done at European level to make France safe is being done," he said. "And we will make sure that Europe's counter-terror strategy is fit for purpose to face the challenges of the months ahead."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday there was no indication that any Canadians were targeted or victims of the attacks in Paris, but that his government would focus on balancing security and freedom amid fear of future attacks.

"It's too soon to jump to conclusions, but obviously governments have a responsibility to keep their citizens safe, while defending our rights and freedoms, and that balance is something the Canadian government, and indeed all governments around the world, will be focusing on," Mr Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa as he prepared to depart for a summit of Group of 20 nations in Turkey.

The attacks violate all human and moral values, Qatar's foreign minister said in a statement. "The state of Qatar, through its foreign minister, strongly condemns these heinous attacks that have struck the French capital causing so many victims," Mr Khaled al-Attiyah said in a statement sent to Reuters by the embassy in Paris.

"These acts, which target stability and security in France are against all human and moral values," he added.

The "heinous" Paris attacks are a violation of all religions and underline the need to intensify efforts against "terrorism", Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Saturday as he arrived in Vienna for talks on ending Syria's civil war.

"I wanted to express our condolences to the government and people of France for the heinous terrorist attacks that took place yesterday which are in violation and contravention of all ethics, morals and religions," Mr Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Vienna. "The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long called for more intensified international efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and shapes," he said.

The Paris attacks show it is necessary to eradicate threats to global security through joint international, a Saudi Arabian source told state news agency SPA on Saturday.

"Saudi Arabia expresses the need for a concerted effort by the international community to eradicate these dangerous and destructive threats that target security and stability around the globe, and poses a threat to all religions and international norms and conventions," the source said.

The source added that an effective means for joint international action was needed to fight those who sought "to harm global security under any pretext".

The Vatican on Saturday condemned the killings in Paris as "mad terrorist violence" and called for a decisive response to counter the spread of"homicidal hatred".

"We condemn (it) in the most radical way together with the pope and all those who love peace," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

The attacks also prompted stern responses from Republican presidential candidates, with Mr Jeb Bush calling them a war on the West and Mr Ben Carson saying Syrian refugees should be barred entry into the United States.

Republicans attending the Florida Republican Party's Sunshine Summit stood and bowed their heads for a moment of silence for the Paris victims. Candidates offered their prayers. "This is a war being created by Islamic terrorists," Mr Bush told conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt. "This is an organised effort to destroy Western civilization. And we need to lead in this regard...This is the war of our time."

Mr Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush, who ordered the US into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in which hundreds of thousands of civilians and soldiers were killed, said the United States should reinvigorate US alliances in the Middle East and rebuild its counter-intelligence capabilities in response.

Retired neurosurgeon Carson told reporters the Paris attacks, in which 140 people were killed, "reminds us that there are those out there who have a thirst for innocent blood in an attempt to spread their philosophy and their will across this globe".

"We must redouble our efforts and our resolve to resist them, not only to contain them, but to eliminate that kind of hatred in the world," he said.

Dr Carson said refugees from the conflict in Syria and Iraq should not be allowed into the United States. "To bring them here when we have tens of millions of people who are suffering economically doesn't make any economic sense," he said.

US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, another candidate seeking his party's nomination to run for the White House in the November 2016 election, said Americans should stand with the people of France and help the French government find those responsible. "We cannot let those who seek to disrupt our way of life succeed. We must increase our efforts at home and abroad to improve our defenses, destroy terrorist networks, and deprive them of the space from which to operate," Sen Rubio said in a statement.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a hawk on US national security, called the Paris attacks "an attack on human decency and all things that we hold dear".