Saturday, November 14, 2015

actuellement en France...

France headlines yet again with yet another in-Paris attentat terroriste. The death toll is still being tallied; I don't expect an accurate count until a week or so has gone by. Right now, with the attacks in Paris having been shut down only a few hours ago (with some of the murderers still being pursued), there's plenty of wild-eyed speculation going on. This means that any death tally could be subject to either over-counting or under-counting. Right now, people are waving around numbers like 120-150 dead. Will this figure rise or fall over the coming days? I have no idea, so it's better just to wait for more, and clearer, intel.

An article over at L'Express, titled "What We Know About the Carnage in Bataclan Hall" ("Ce que l'on sait du carnage du Bataclan"), gives us the following information:

•There was an assault on Friday the 13th at Bataclan Hall (among other places) in the 11th arrondissement (borough, precinct, district) of Paris. Heavy death toll; four terrorists are thought to have been involved in this particular attack.

•About 100 of the 120 or so dead were inside the concert hall itself.

•Witnesses say the unmasked men simply burst into the concert hall and began firing indiscriminately. The weapons were likely AK-47s. Some called this "scenes from a war."

•At least one person claims to have heard "Allahu Akbar" during the massacre, but other witnesses say they heard no such cries.

•Around 100 or so dead; at least three of the terrorists were killed.

•There's no information, as of the writing of this article, about who the terrorists are, whether they were in one, two, or three teams, or anything else that might provide a lead.

•The planned concert was with the California metal group Eagles of Death Metal. Frontliners Jessie Hughes and Josh Homme, both in their early forties, are said to be safe and sound, as are the rest of the band and the stage crew.

This is a rapidly evolving situation, so watch the news and expect more updates by the hour. Another article notes that President François Hollande has declared a country-wide state of emergency that will last twelve days. The decree empowers les forces de l'ordre (police, etc.) to take charge during this period. This means things like curfew, lockdowns, etc. The last time such a state of emergency had been declared, it was 2005, during the riots in the Parisian banlieue (literally "the suburbs," but more like "the projects" in this context). Police powers during the state of emergency include:

1. interdicting pedestrian or vehicular traffic
2. creating zones where people can enjoy only a limited stay
3. forbidding access to any département (French region) where anyone might be attempting, in any way, to hamper the action of les pouvoirs publics (the government)
4. enacting house arrests of anyone whose actions appear dangerous to safety and the public order
5. ordering the provisional closure of concert halls, drinking establishments, and meeting places of any type
6. forbidding meetings that provoke or promote public disorder
7. obliging owners of weapons to surrender them to authorities
8. authorizing home searches, day or night
9. taking measures to control the press and the media

Like it or not, France is on lockdown. What happens from here is anyone's guess. President Hollande has said he is declaring "merciless war" on the terrorists," but as some gloomily note, we've heard this rhetoric before, and technically, France is already at war with the forces of terror.

A personal note: I can attest that bombings and terror have been part of French life since at least the 1980s. I went to France a few times back then, starting in 1986, and there were already counterterrorist measures in place: train-station garbage cans bolted closed to prevent small bombs from being tossed in; loud, dire warnings at the stations saying that unattended baggage would be confiscated and blown up; a 30-minute lockdown of in-train restrooms on every TGV ride to prevent terrorists from sneaking into the bathrooms to prep for an assault; tough, flinty-eyed men with very visible machine guns at major Parisian airports. This stuff was all in place even back then, and possibly even before. What's happening right now is not new, and that's a sad statement. When will people wake up?

ADDENDUM: this BBC article lists the other attack sites.


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