Hostage siege at historic Paris cinema

Multiple attacks in French capital lead to state of emergency.

by Jennie Kermode

The Bataclan arts centre
The Bataclan arts centre Photo: ParisSharing

A series of attacks in Paris, with 129 confirmed dead and many more wounded, has led to a state of emergency being declared across France. Around 200 people were taken hostage in the Bataclan arts centre, one of the world's oldest cinemas, while two suicide attacks and a third explosion have taken place near the Stade de France, where a football match was in progress. There are also reports of an attack at Le Petit Cambodge (a restaurant near the stadium) and a cafe in Rue Alibert, and a cafe in the Rue de Charonne.

Police entered the Bataclan around midnight and freed the hostages. French media are reporting there are at least 82 thought to have been killed, along with four attackers. A number of people apparently escaped when they were pulled up onto a roof and crossed over into an adjacent apartment.

The Bataclan is one of Paris' most popular concert venues and operated as a cinema in the late 1890s and early 1900s, when it was an important venue for early experiments in the medium and played a key role in getting it established as a respectable art form. Although it fell into disrepair in the Thirties, it has always been an important part of the cultural life of the capital.

President Hollande has condemned the attacks, as have David Cameron and Barack Obama. Hollande was in the football stadium when it was attacked, and visited the Bataclan shortly after the police declared that it was safe to do so. He has called for unity.

Richard Mowe, director of the French Film Festival UK, which has been receiving many guests from France and continues until 13 December, said: "The entire team of French Film Festival UK want to show solidarity, sympathy and support to the people of Paris in the wake of the terror attacks and pray that all our colleagues and friends working there are safe. We are all shocked by this atrocity and our thoughts and hearts are with the entire French population as yet again they have to come to terms with the evil in our midst."

There were also tributes and messages of solidarity from French filmmakers. Gainsbourg director Johann Sfar, who lives in Paris, tweeted an instagram drawing saying: "Friends from the whole world thank you for #PrayforParis but we don't need more religion. Our faith goes to music! Kisses! Life! Champagne and Joy! #ParisisaboutLife"

Samba star Omar Sy tweeted: "No words... except #Paix #Unité #Amour& all my thoughts for the victims and their families."

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