French minister opens way for curfews, European countries issue security alerts

A state of emergency was declared overnight as thousands of people were evacuated from the national stadium.

Police forces and rescuers walk through rue Oberkampf near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, early on November 14, 2015. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has authorised local authorities to impose curfews if needed in the wake of the deadly mass attacks in Paris.

The official death toll from the assaults by Islamic State militants at six different spots in the French capital is at least 125.

A state of emergency was declared overnight as thousands of people were evacuated from Stade de France, the national stadium, after double suicide bombs went off outside the venue.

Some of the other places that were attacked include a music event at the Bataclan Concert Hall and a restaurant.

French President Fran├žois Hollande says there will be three days of national mourning for the victims.

The Islamic State (ISIS) militant group has claimed responsibility for the latest wave of attacks.

Hollande as described ISIS's actions as an "act of war", and has warned France will be "ruthless" in dealing with those responsible for the attacks.

WATCH: Over 120 killed in Paris attacks.

A number of European countries have issued security alerts with Britain confirming that a "severe" threat level warning will remain in place.

Hollande says the French are hurting but will remain strong.

"France will be pitiless concerning the barbarity of this and it will use all of its means in the framework of law and all means on the whole external and internal territory."

British Prime Minister David Cameron says this has been the worst attack on France since World War Two and the worst attack on Europe in a decade.

"It's clear that the threat from [Islamic State] is evolving. Last night's attacks suggest a new degree of planning and coordination and a greater ambition for mass causality attacks."

Meanwhile, people across Paris are in mourning laying candles and flowers at the sites of the six coordinated attacks.

The lights on the Eiffel Tower were switched off last night as a sign of mourning which has symbolised the attacks on social media.

The Eiffel Tower will remain closed for now.

A man says the city is silent today while security is on high alert.

"There is still a lot of people at bars and there was collective nervousness."


France has been on high alert ever since the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris in January killed 18 people.

Those attacks briefly united France in defence of freedom of speech, with a mass demonstration of more than a million people. But that unity has since broken down, with far-right populist Marine Le Pen gaining on both mainstream parties by blaming immigration and Islam for France's security problems.

It was not clear what political impact the latest attacks would have less than a month before regional elections in which Le Pen's National Front is set to make further advances.

The governing Socialist Party and the National Front suspended their election campaigns.

US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel led a global chorus of solidarity with France. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the "despicable attacks" while Pope Francis called the killings "inhuman".

Italy, Russia, Belgium and Hungary all tightened security measures.

Poland, meanwhile, said that the attacks meant it could not now take its share of migrants under a European Union plan. Many of the migrants currently flooding into Europe are refugees from Syria.

Julien Pearce, a journalist from Europe 1 radio, was inside the concert hall when the shooting began. In an eyewitness report posted on the station's website, Pearce said several very young individuals, who were not wearing masks, entered the hall during the concert, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and started "blindly shooting at the crowd".

"There were bodies everywhere," he said.

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