Pope says terror attack piecemeal WWIII; IS claims responsibility
WASHINGTON—US President Barack Obama led a chorus of global condemnation of a wave of attacks in Paris on Friday that left at least 129 people dead and 352 hurt, as nations pledged solidarity with France.
The Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino III, whose government is preparing to host the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit on Nov. 18-19, joined Obama and other world leaders in condemning the attacks in Paris, saying the latest wave of terrorism demanded “heightened security from all of us.”
Pope Francis said on Saturday he was “shaken” by the “inhuman” attacks that he described as part of a “piecemeal World War III.”
“There is no justification for these things,” the Catholic News Agency quoted the Pope as saying in a phone interview with TV2000, the official broadcasting station for the Italian Bishops Conference.
President Aquino called a meeting of his security officials and placed security forces on full alert ahead of the Apec summit that will be attended by Obama and the heads of state of 20 other members of the regional economic bloc.
The President expressed his outrage and grief over the brutal attacks in Paris as he convened the Cabinet security cluster to ensure the safety of the Apec Leaders’ Meeting this week.
“Terror and brutality have plunged the City of Light, Paris, into the darkness of horror and grief,” Mr. Aquino said in a statement.
“The deaths of over a hundred in the attack on the Bataclan Concert Hall, the vicinity of the Stade de France, and on restaurants in the city center, were atrocities that demand a united voice from the world in condemnation and grief,” he said.
“The Philippines and its people stand in solidarity with the people of Paris and all of France, in this time of deepest sorrow and the gravest outrage against the perpetrators of these crimes,” he said.
The coordinated killings reverberated around the world after shootings by gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is great), explosions and a hostage-taking at a popular concert venue in the French capital.
Countries such as the United States, Britain, Spain and India, which have experienced their own mass-casualty attacks, were among the first to voice their condemnation.
READ: World prays for Paris
‘Attack on humanity’
“It’s an attack not just on the people of France. But this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share,” Obama said in an address at the White House.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people,” he said.
In London, where 52 people were killed and hundreds wounded in a series of coordinated suicide bombings in 2005, British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “We will do whatever we can to help.”
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned “the despicable terrorist attacks” in Paris.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Ban “trusts that the French authorities will do all in their power to bring the perpetrators to justice quickly.”
The UN Security Council also condemned “the barbaric and cowardly terrorist attacks,” and underlined the need to bring the perpetrators of “these terrorist acts to justice.”
In a telegram to French President François Hollande, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the attacks were “the latest testimonial to the barbaric essence of terrorism which throws down a challenge to human civilization.”
“It’s obvious that an effective fight against this evil demands a real unity of the forces of the international community. I would like to confirm the readiness of Russia for the closest cooperation with our French partners in investigating the crime that took place in Paris,” Putin said.
“In this difficult time for France, I ask you to pass along words of sincere sympathy and support to the relatives and those near to those who were killed and wishes for a fast recovery to all those who were hurt at the hands of extremists,” he said.
“Our hearts and thoughts and prayers go out to our French cousins in this dark and terrible time,” new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
He said Canada had offered “all of our help and support to the government of France.”
Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, the foreign minister of Spain, where 191 people were killed in train bombings in 2004, raised the specter of a jihadist attack.
‘Hugely cruel challenge’
“All of this confirms that we are facing an unprecedented challenge, a hugely cruel challenge,” he told public television TVE.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose country was hit by two major attacks in 2006 and 2008 that saw a total of 355 people killed, said on Twitter the “news from Paris is anguishing & dreadful.”
France’s Jewish community was among the targets of the last attacks in Paris in January and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added his voice to the condemnation.
“Israel stands shoulder to shoulder with French President François Hollande and with the people of France in our common battle against terrorism,” he said.
Netanyahu told France’s Jewish community—the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world—after the January attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket that they would be welcomed with open arms by Israel.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, where twin bombings on a peace rally in Ankara last month killed 102 people, offered his condolences.
“As a country that knows very well the manner and consequences of terrorism, we understand perfectly the suffering that France is experiencing now,” he said.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani branded the attacks “crimes against humanity” as Tehran announced he would postpone a scheduled trip to Paris.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini tweeted that she was “in the process of following with pain and dread the events in Paris.”
“Europe is with France and the French people,” she said.
Angela Merkel, the chancellor of neighboring Germany, said she was “profoundly shocked by the news and images from Paris,” while Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders tweeted: “Shocked and appalled by new attacks in #Paris. Words are not enough.”
‘Black Friday for France’
And in Australia, where a lone gunman reportedly shouting Islamist slogans killed a man outside police headquarters in Sydney last month, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said “this is indeed a black Friday for France and for the world.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull praised the French people for their response, describing France as “the home of freedom.”
“It is a global struggle for freedom against those who seek to suppress it and seek to assert some form of religious tyranny; a threat in the name of God but is truthfully the work of the devil,” he said.
Elsewhere in Asia, where people woke up to the news from Paris, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan of Singapore, which raised its alert level, said “this is a terrible assault on a beautiful city with warm, cheerful, hospitable people.”
“We must not let the terrorists divide us or destroy our spirit. I know the French spirit will prevail,” Balakrishnan said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke of “these tragic times for the French people” as he condemned “in the strongest ways this barbarous act.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan, for his part, condemned “this act of terror … this brutal carnage” while Japan’s foreign minister Fumio Kishida said he was “shocked and angry.”
NY, in France’s tricolors
Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said he was “deeply shocked and outraged” by the news of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Kishida, speaking to reporters on Saturday in Hiroshima, said Japan stood by France, promising to cooperate in the international fight against terrorism.
“We strongly condemn the act of terrorism, which we do not tolerate for any reason,” he said, expressing condolences to the victims and their families.
In New York, One World Trade Center, the skyscraper built on the site of the September 11 attacks of 2001, was illuminated in blue, white and red in tribute to the French flag.
“We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté, égalité, fraternité are not just the values French people share, but we share,” Obama said in Washington, referencing the French national motto.
“Those go far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.” Reports from AFP