Europe

Paris attacks: What happened on the night

  • 9 December 2015
  • From the section Europe
Composite of images from night of attack Image copyright EPA/EPA/Reu

The attacks in Paris on the night of Friday 13 November by gunmen and suicide bombers hit a concert hall, a major stadium, restaurants and bars, almost simultaneously - and left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.

Media captionParis attacks: Key locations

The attacks were described by President Francois Hollande as an "act of war" organised by the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Shootings and bomb blasts left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded, with more than 100 in a critical condition.

"Three co-ordinated teams" were believed to have been behind the attacks, according to Paris chief prosecutor Francois Molins.

In the days immediately after the attacks, French police carried out hundreds of raids across the country, as the search for suspects continued. Raids also took place in the Belgian city of Brussels.

This is how the attacks happened.


21:20 (20:20 GMT) First explosion at the Stade de France

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Spectators spilled onto the pitch after reports of explosions
Image caption There were explosions near the 81,000-capacity Stade de France

The first of three explosions occurred outside the Stade de France stadium on the northern fringe of Paris where France were playing Germany in an international football friendly.

A man wearing a suicide belt was reportedly prevented from entering the stadium after a routine security check detected the explosives. According to the Wall Street Journal, the man backed away from security guards and detonated the explosives.

The bomber and a passer-by were killed.

The game, attended by President Francois Hollande, was being broadcast on TV. After a second man detonated his suicide vest outside a different stadium entrance at 21:30, the president was rushed to safety.

Media captionThe blasts were audible in the stadium

A third suicide bomber blew himself at a fast-food outlet near the stadium at 21:53. The attackers all wore identical explosive vests.

Who were the victims?

Fear stalks Paris


21:25 Gun attack on Rue Alibert

Image caption A restaurant and a bar on rue Alibert were attacked shortly before shots were fired at rue Fontaine au Roi

Shooting: Le Carillon

Meanwhile, other attacks were unfolding nearer to the centre of town, around popular nightlife spots. The first took place at about 21:25 in the 10th district (arrondissement), not far from the Place de la Republique.

The gunmen arrived at the scene in a black Seat car, later found abandoned, about three miles (nearly 5km) away in the eastern suburb of Montreuil.

Witnesses at Le Carillon bar, 18 rue Alibert, said they initially thought a firecracker had gone off before realising that they were under fire from semi-automatic rifles.

"People dropped to the ground. We put a table over our heads to protect us," said Ben Grant, who was with his wife at the back of the bar.

Bar reels from attack

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police blocking off the road near Le Petit Cambodge

Restaurant attack: Le Petit Cambodge

Witnesses describe how a man then crossed the road and turned his gun on a restaurant, Le Petit Cambodge (Little Cambodia).

Fifteen people died in the attack on the bar and restaurant, with 15 severely injured. More than 100 bullets were fired.


21:32 Diners shot in Rue de la Fontaine au Roi

Then came an attack on diners a few streets south of rue Alibert, in front of the Cafe Bonne Biere and La Casa Nostra pizzeria in rue de la Fontaine au Roi. Five people were killed and eight were severely injured.

Again, witnesses reported that the gunmen were travelling in a black Seat.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police officer guarding a cordon near the restaurant attacks

21:36 Gun attack in Rue de Charonne

The next reports of shootings came to the south of the first restaurant attacks, at La Belle Equipe bar in the rue de Charonne in the 11th district.

Witnesses said that the attackers arrived in a black Seat. Two men opened fire on the terrace of the cafe.

"It lasted at least three minutes," one witness said. "Then they got back in their car and headed towards Charonne station."

Image caption La Belle Equipe came under fire next
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Belle Equipe attack was the second deadliest of the night

Nineteen people died in the shooting, with a further nine in a critical condition.

Images of aftermath of shootings

Eyewitness accounts from the scene


21:40 Suicide bomb Boulevard Voltaire

A few minutes later, an attacker - later revealed to be Braham Abdeslam - killed himself by detonating a suicide bomb at the restaurant Le Comptoir Voltaire on the Boulevard Voltaire, the chief prosecutor said.

One other person was severely injured in this incident.


21:40 - 00:20 Bataclan concert hall attack

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Bataclan concert hall was evacuated following the attack
Image caption The Bataclan has a capacity of 1,500

The deadliest attack of the night came at a concert venue on Boulevard Voltaire, also in the 11th district, where Californian rock group Eagles of Death Metal was playing. The 1,500-seat Bataclan hall was sold out.

The Paris chief prosecutor said three attackers wearing suicide belts were involved - earlier reports spoke of four attackers. Witnesses said they arrived in a black Volkswagen Polo then stormed in through the main entrance and into the back of the concert hall.

Eighty-nine people died as the men fired Kalashnikov-type assault rifles into the crowd. At least 99 others were taken to hospital in a critical condition.

What happened at the Bataclan?

'I saw people on the ground and blood'

Image caption Three gunmen stormed into the Bataclan and shot at the crowd

One of the attackers was said to have shouted "God is great" in Arabic. One witness heard a gunman blaming President Hollande for intervening in Syria. It was the first clear evidence that Paris was once again being targeted by Islamists.

"We thought it was fireworks but then there were men shooting in all directions. So we all lay on the floor and started crawling towards the stage," one woman said.

Some escaped via an emergency exit to the left of the stage. Others managed to find a route onto the roof.

By now, President Hollande was in crisis talks with Prime Minister Manuel Valls as well as Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. Mr Hollande announced a state of emergency throughout France and a tightening of border controls.

The order was then given to send elite security forces into the concert hall. As the operation came to a head, at about 00:20, a police officer shot one of the gunmen, and his suicide belt detonated. The siege ended with the other two blowing themselves up.

The three attackers have since been identified as Omar Ismail Mostefai, 29, Samy Animour, 28, and Foued Mohamed-Aggad, 23.

Who were the attackers?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police officer on guard near the Bataclan concert hall