people in the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II. President Francois Hollande condemned it as terrorism and pledged that France would stand firm against its foes.
The worst carnage was at a concert hall hosting an American rock band, where scores of people were held hostage and attackers ended the standoff by detonating explosive belts. Police who stormed the building encountered a bloody scene of horror inside.
Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said as many as five attackers were killed, though it was not clear how many there were altogether and how many, if any, were still at large. Other officials said seven attackers had been killed and that police were searching for other possible accomplices.
Authorities said the death toll could exceed 120 for at least six sites, including the national stadium and a tight circle of popular nightspots.
Hollande declared a state of emergency and announced that he was closing the country's borders, although officials later said they were just re-imposing border checks that had been removed after Europe created its free-travel zone in the 1980s.
Metro lines shut down and streets emptied on the mild fall evening as fear spread through the city, still aching from the horrors of the Charlie Hebdo attack just 10 months ago.
The attack unfolded with two suicide bombings and an explosion outside the national stadium during a soccer match between the French and German national teams. Within minutes, according to Paris police chief Michel Cadot, another group of attackers sprayed cafes outside the concert hall with machine gunfire, then stormed inside and opened fire on the panicked audience. As police closed in, they detonated explosive belts, killing themselves.
Hollande, who had to be evacuated from the stadium when the bombs went off outside, later vowed that the nation would stand firm and united: "A determined France, a united France, a France that joins together and a France that will not allow itself to be staggered even if today, there is infinite emotion faced with this disaster, this tragedy, which is an abomination, because it is barbarism."
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, although jihadists on Twitter immediately praised them and criticized France's military operations against Islamic State extremists.
In addition to the deaths at the concert hall, dozens were killed in an attack on a restaurant in the 10th arrondissement and several other establishments crowded on a Friday night, police said. Authorities said at least three people died when the bombs went off outside the soccer stadium.
All of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named in the quickly moving investigation.
"This is a terrible ordeal that again assails us," Hollande said in a nationally televised address. "We know where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are."
U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking to reporters in Washington, decried an "attack on all humanity," calling the Paris violence an "outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians" and vowing to do whatever it takes to help bring the perpetrators to justice.
Two explosions were heard outside the Stade de France stadium north of Paris during a France-Germany exhibition soccer game. A police union official, Gregory Goupil of the Alliance Police Nationale, whose region includes the area of the stadium, said there were two suicide attacks and a bombing that killed at least three people near two entrances and a McDonalds.
The blasts penetrated the sounds of cheering fans, according to an Associated Press reporter in the stadium. Sirens were immediately heard, and a helicopter was circling overhead.
France has heightened security measures ahead of a major global climate conference that starts in two weeks, out of fear of violent protests and potential terrorist attacks. Hollande canceled a planned trip to this weekend's G-20 summit in Turkey, which was to focus in large part on growing fears of terrorism carried out by Islamic extremists.
Emilio Macchio, from Ravenna, Italy, was at Le Carillon restaurant, one of the restaurants targeted, having a beer on the sidewalk, when the shooting started. He said he didn't see any gunmen or victims, but hid behind a corner, then ran away.
"It sounded like fireworks," he said.
France has been on edge since January, when Islamic extremists attacked the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had run cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and a kosher grocery. Twenty people died, including the three attackers. The Charlie Hebdo attackers claimed links to extremists in Yemen, while the kosher market attacker claimed ties to the Islamic State group.
This time, they targeted young people enjoying a rock concert and ordinary city residents enjoying a Friday night out.
One of the targeted restaurants, Le Carillon, is in the same general neighborhood as the Charlie Hebdo offices, as is the Bataclan, among the best-known venues in eastern Paris, near the trendy Oberkampf area known for a vibrant nightlife. The California-based band Eagles of Death Metal was scheduled to play there Friday night.
Among the first physicians to respond to the wounded Friday was Patrick Pelloux, an emergency room doctor and former Charlie Hebdo writer who was among the first to enter the offices Jan. 7 to find his friends and colleagues dead.
The country has seen several smaller-scale attacks or attempts since, including an incident on a high-speed train in August in which American travelers thwarted an attempted attack by a heavily armed man.
France's military is bombing Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq and fighting extremists in Africa, and extremist groups have frequently threatened France in the past.
French authorities are particularly concerned about the threat from hundreds of French Islamic radicals who have travelled to Syria and returned home with skills to stage violence.
Though it was unclear who was responsible for Friday night's violence, the Islamic State is "clearly the name at the top of everyone's list," said Brian Michael Jenkins, a terrorism expert and senior adviser to the president of the Washington-based RAND Corporation.
Jenkins said the tactic used - "multiple attackers in coordinated attacks at multiple locations" - echoed recommendations published in the extremist group's online magazine, Dabbiq, over the summer.
"The big question on everyone's mind is, were these attackers, if they turn out to be connected to one of the groups in Syria, were they homegrown terrorists or were they returning fighters from having served" with the Islamic State group, Jenkins said. "That will be a huge question."
'I was a suicide bomber': Paris suspect charged in Belgium
Alastair Macdonald and John IrishMar 19th 2016 4:20PM
BRUSSELS/PARIS, March 19 (Reuters) - The prime surviving suspect for the Nov. 13 Paris attacks planned to blow himself up at a sports stadium with fellow Islamic State militants but changed his mind, he told Belgian investigators on Saturday.
SEE ALSO: Suicide bomb kills five, wounds 36 in Istanbul shopping district
The admission by Salah Abdeslam came a day after he was shot in the leg and captured during a police raid in Brussels, ending an intensive four-month manhunt.
"He wanted to blow himself up at the Stade de France and ... backed out," said the lead French investigator, Francois Molins, quoting Abdeslam's statement to a magistrate in Brussels before he was transferred to a secure jail in Bruges.
The gun and bomb attacks on the stadium, bars and a concert hall killed 130 people and marked the deadliest militant assault in Europe since 2004.
Forensic police investigate outside the building where was carried out a police operation in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district in Brussels, on March 18, 2016, as part of the investigation into the Paris November attacks. The main suspect in the jihadist attacks on Paris in November, Salah Abdeslam, was arrested in a raid in Brussels on March 18, French police sources said. / AFP / BELGA / DIRK WAEM / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images)
Molins told reporters in Paris that people should treat with caution initial statements by the 26-year-old French national. But his capture and apparent urge to talk marked a major breakthrough for investigators after the trail had seemed to go cold.
Abdeslam's lawyer said he admitted being in Paris during the attacks but gave no details. He told reporters his client, born and raised by Moroccan immigrants in Brussels, had cooperated with investigators but would fight extradition to France.
Legal experts said his challenge was unlikely to succeed but would buy him weeks, possibly months, to prepare his defense.
Belgian prosecutors charged Abdeslam and a man arrested with him with "participation in terrorist murder."
Abdeslam's elder brother Brahim, with whom he used to run a bar, was among the suicide bombers. Salah's confession suggested he was the 10th man mentioned in an Islamic State claim of responsibility for the attacks, after which police found one suicide vest abandoned in garbage.
Abdeslam's family, who had urged him to give himself up, said through their lawyer that they had a "sense of relief."
Authorities hope the arrest may help disrupt other militant cells that Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said were certainly "out there" and planning further violence. French security services stepped up their measures at frontier crossings after a global warning from Interpol that other fugitives might try to move country.
"We've won a battle against the forces of ignorance but the struggle isn't over," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said.
The case has raised tensions with France but Michel and French President Francois Hollande, who was in Brussels for an EU summit when Abdeslam was arrested, praised each other's security services. Hollande was attending an international soccer match at the Stade de France when the bombers struck.
A man using false papers in the names of Amine Choukri and Monir Ahmed Alaaj was also charged with terrorist murder. As Choukri, he was documented by German police in the city of Ulm in October when he was stopped in a car with Abdeslam. French prosecutor Molins said Abdeslam traveled widely to prepare the attacks.
A third man in the house when the pair were arrested was charged with belonging to a terrorist organization. He and a woman who was present were charged with concealing criminals.
Police had sought Abdeslam since he called two acquaintances in Belgium in a panic, hours after the attacks, to have them collect him and bring him home. Suspected to be as far away as Syria, it seems he was in Brussels all or most of the time.
BRUSSELS, March 15, 2016-- Police officers guard at a crossroad on the site of a shooting in Forest, Brussels, Belgium, March 15, 2016. A police officer was injured on Tuesday afternoon in a shootout during a raid on a property in Brussels, reportedly linked to the Paris terror attacks. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan via Getty Images)
Failure to complete his mission could have limited his access to any support from Syria-based Islamic State; the chief Belgian investigator on the case said he had instead relied on a network of friends, family and neighbors with whom he had a history of drug trafficking and petty crime.
Security agencies' difficulties in penetrating some Muslim communities, particularly in pursuit of Belgium's unusually high number of citizens fighting in Syria, have been a key factor in the inquiry.
As Parisians, and families of the victims, voiced relief at the arrest, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after an emergency cabinet meeting that a trial could answer questions for those who suffered in the attacks.
"Abdeslam will have to answer to French justice for his acts," he said. "It is an important blow to the terrorist organization Daesh (Islamic State) in Europe."
A trickle of people came to a makeshift memorial in central Paris, near the scene of much of the bloodshed, to pay their respects.
"It's really a relief," said Emilien Bouthillier, who works in the neighborhood. "I can't wait for Belgium to transfer and return him to France so he can be tried the way he should be."
Friday's armed swoop came after Abdeslam's fingerprints were found at an apartment following a bloody raid on Tuesday in which an Algerian was shot dead and police officers wounded.
Later, local media said, a tip-off and a tapped telephone led police to a mobile phone number used by Abdeslam and, by triangulating the device's location, established where he was.
At his nearby newspaper store, a vendor named Dominique said Abdeslam had been well known and liked in the community: "He was a very nice lad before," he said. "How can things go this far?"
(Additional reporting by Robin Emmott, Clement Rossignol, Hortense de Roffignac, Philip Blenkinsop and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Miranda Alexander-Webber in Bruges)