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Hostage Situation Ends At Concert Hall In Center Of Paris


Dozens of people have been killed in a series of shooting incident and bomb explosions in Paris. The president of France, Francois Hollande, has declared a national state of emergency and imposed border restrictions. A number of people are being held hostage at a concert hall in the center of Paris, and we're joined by NPR's Eleanor Beardsley who is there and can tell us more. Eleanor, first let's start with that concert hall and the report about hostages. What's going on?

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Well, Audie, I've been watching French television, and they've just announced that the hostage-taking situation has ended. Elite forces have stormed the hall a while ago, and now they're describing a horror scene inside with dozens of cadavers. There were summary executions. But apparently, that has come to an end, and the French president, Francois Hollande, with the prime minister and the interior minister, are on their way to this concert hall, the Bataclan in the 10th arrondissement in Paris right now.

CORNISH: What is being said by the government about this?

BEARDSLEY: Audie, Hollande spoke earlier on television. He said that Paris was under attack. He declared a situation of emergency for the entire country, and he said the borders would now be closed or checked, which - he said we will not only check for people coming in but for people trying to get out. So - and the city is under complete lockdown. The police are ordering or telling people to stay inside, and they're showing streets in Paris that are usually very vibrant on a Friday night that are empty. The city is in a state of absolute panic and fear tonight. I can tell you that.

CORNISH: I want us to remind people about the other areas of attack, right? It wasn't just this concert hall. Help us what - tell us what happened earlier in the evening.

BEARDSLEY: Yeah. Audie, it was a coordinated attack. There were three places. It started at about 9:30 p.m. when people are sitting outside on a terrace of a cafe because it's been very warm lately. And a car drove by with a Kalashnikov and just mowed them down.

CORNISH: And this was at a restaurant, right?

BEARDSLEY: Absolutely - at a restaurant in the center of the city. And then men went into this concert hall and started taking hostages, and that drama unfolded. And then at a stadium - the national stadium, Stade de France, right outside the city, where France and Germany were playing a friendly game, there were two explosions - suicide bombers, the French television is saying the first time in France - and three people were killed there. And President Hollande was actually at that game…

CORNISH: We want to remind people that didn't happen at the stadium itself, but nearby, right? I mean explosions could be heard, even on television.

BEARDSLEY: Exactly - right outside the stadium. People absolutely panicked and some people ran out, then came back in the stadium. And we had these surreal scenes on television of thousands of people on the grass in the field at the center of the stadium trying to take refuge from attackers. And it was just unreal scene. So no - the French newscasts are saying, we cannot tell you how many are dead. We cannot tell you. It's completely unclear chaos. I've never seen the city like this.

CORNISH: This is NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris. Eleanor, we'll catch up with you later.

BEARDSLEY: Absolutely, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.