U.S., French Officials: Multiple Attacks In Paris Were 'Nearly Simultaneous'

Nov 13, 2015
Originally published on November 13, 2015 9:26 pm
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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

NPR counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston is with us now. And Dina, we have been hearing these reports from the media. Tell us what you're hearing from official sources inside law enforcement agencies about these attacks.

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: Well, I've spoken to law enforcement officials both - I'm sorry. I've spoken to law enforcement officials both in the U.S. and France who are tracking this. And frankly, there's more that they don't know than what they do know. But let me lay out the situation as they understand it really early in the investigation and try to take apart not just what Eleanor said, but what some of these other witnesses have said. Now, see, there were multiple attacks throughout Paris that were nearly simultaneous. And we hear that there were as many as seven, though it's unclear what might be counted as two attacks accidentally when it's just one. There was an attack on a restaurant and the street in the 10th and 11th arrondissements. And these two attacks could be counted as one or two. So it's unclear what the numbers are. But my sources told me that the attacks definitely started there with a man with an AK-47, or some kind of gun that looked like that to witnesses, who simply opened fire on civilians. And dozens were killed, and others were injured. And that man, as far as we know, is still at large.

MCEVERS: OK, and then a short time after that, there were one or two explosions. What do we know about that?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, there are differing reports about whether or not there was a suicide bomber. But a bomb did go off outside or near the Stade de France, a soccer stadium. And again that was outside, but here's what's important about it; the French president was inside the stadium...

MCEVERS: That's right.

TEMPLE-RASTON: ...At a soccer game. So security was really tight. So it's unclear if the explosions happened outside because of that heightened security. One official I talked to said that one of the working theories - and remember, these are all working theories at this point...

MCEVERS: Right.

TEMPLE-RASTON: ...Was that this was supposed to be an attack that happened inside and killed many people. But they couldn't get in.

MCEVERS: OK, so we're up to a shooting in one part and then this explosion in another. And then we heard that French police stormed a concert hall where there could have been more than a hundred people killed. I know it's still early yet, but what are your sources saying about that?

TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, it's early for conclusions, but we have little clues that we can try and put together. They've called it a terrorist attack, but we shouldn't jump to the conclusion because ISIS has been in the news so much that it's and ISIS-inspired attack.

MCEVERS: Right.

TEMPLE-RASTON: The attacks earlier this year in Paris - and Eleanor and I covered those together - the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine weren't ISIS. They were actually considered to come out of al-Qaida. And al-Qaida trained the brothers who attacked those offices.

There hasn't been any suspect captured so far. So no group has claimed responsibility. And there may be some jihadist groups on social media that are cheering about the attacks, but that's considered to law enforcement to be fairly meaningless. What you look for in these cases are details about the attack that haven't been made public. This is why we're getting so little information. Then you can start to talk about responsibility when those details come from the Web.

I mean, the president of France, as we have said, put the country on a state-of-emergency footing and has restricted borders. There's a very important reason for this. You might remember in the Charlie Hebdo attacks, one of the suspects had a woman who was his wife who was able to get out of France. She was a suspect in the attacks, and she made it all the way to ISIS. That, I think - or at least my sources are telling me - is part of why they have put these restrictions on the borders. They didn't do that last time.

MCEVERS: That's NPR's counterterrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston talking about what we're learning about these unfolding attacks in Paris. Thank you very much, Dina.

TEMPLE-RASTON: You're very welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.