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After leaders’ rhetoric, climate negotiators start work on deal | Reuters

PARIS With encouragement from 150 world leaders ringing in their ears, government negotiators in Paris were on Tuesday left to turn the rhetoric into reality and agree a draft text of a global deal to slow climate change.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping made common cause on Monday with other countries to stress the urgency of an agreement to slow a rise in global temperatures blamed for spurring floods, heat waves and rising sea levels.

But as the leaders left Paris, negotiators from 195 countries were left to work on a draft text of more than 50 pages still riddled with disagreements.

The main sticking point is how to come up with the billions of dollars needed to finance the cleaner energy sources that are badly needed if emerging countries are to develop without relying heavily on fossil fuels.

Many delegates said the large turnout at the U.N. climate summit in Paris, weeks after attacks by Islamic State militants killed 130 people, was a sign of hope after the last summit collapsed in failure in 2009 in Copenhagen amid rancour between rich and poor nations.

French President Francois Hollande said he was encouraged by the start of talks that are planned to run until Dec. 11.

“It’s set off well but it has to arrive too,” he told reporters. He said there were “two reefs. Either we overload the vessel and it sinks or we empty it and it goes nowhere.”

The technical talks repeated little of Monday’s grand language. Countries restated their negotiating positions with few hints of likely compromise.

China’s delegate Su Wei “noted with concern” what he called a lack of commitment by the rich to make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and help developing nations with new finance to tackle global warming.


“It’s back to the nitty gritty,” said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, adding the opening day was “all good but that does not resolve the crunch issues.”

“It is still a text with many options,” Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal told Reuters, adding with a shrug “but everybody has shown their commitment to have an agreement.”

The mood was brightened by major announcements including a plan by India and France to mobilise $1 trillion for solar power for some of the world’s poorest people and a private sector initiative led by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to mobilise billions of dollars for new energy research and development.

“Leaders still have the scars of Copenhagen on their hearts and brains,” Yvo de Boer, who was the U.N.’s climate chief in Copenhagen, said.

“The fact that so many leaders came back here on the opening day to send encouragement … is a sign that they really want to move,” he said.

A deal in Paris would be by far the strongest ever agreed to bind both rich and poor nations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which scientists say have blanketed the earth, raised global temperatures and begun upending the planet’s climate system.

Liz Gallagher, of the London-based E3G environmental think-tank, said the opening day had “made an agreement more likely”.

But she said the biggest gap was over climate finance. Developing nations want the rich to pledge rising amounts beyond the current goal of $100 billion a year by 2020 to help them obtain clean energy sources and adapt to the effects of climate change, such as more floods, droughts and intense storms.

Other disputes concern how to define a long-term goal for phasing out fossil fuels.

In June, developed nations in the Group of Seven (G7) signed up for a goal of decarbonising the world economy by 2100. China and India say they need to rely on coal to lift millions from poverty and prefer a shift to low-carbon development this century.

So far, pledges made by about 170 countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020, made in the run-up to the Paris summit, are too weak to limit rising global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times. That is widely viewed as a threshold for dangerous and potentially catastrophic changes in the planet’s climate system.

(Writing by Alister Doyle; Additional reporting by Bate Felix and Emmanuel Jarry; Editing by Bruce Wallace and Janet Lawrence)

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India central bank seen holding rates, room for cuts narrows | Reuters

MUMBAI India’s central bank is likely to keep its policy rate unchanged on Tuesday, following a big cut two months ago, and to sound cautious about the scope for more easing as it aims to meet its 2017 inflation target and braces for a U.S. rate hike.

All 45 respondents surveyed by Reuters last week expected the Reserve Bank of India to hold the repo rate INREPO=ECI at 6.75 percent, after easing it by 50 basis points at its last policy review in late September.

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan will also likely reiterate an “accommodative” stance in his statement, in the wake of data on Monday showing the economy grew 7.4 percent in the July-September quarter, faster than China but below the government’s goal of 8.0 to 8.5 percent growth.

But analysts are less certain about whether Rajan will cut the rate early in the new year. Although India will comfortably meet its target of keeping annual consumer inflation INCPIY=ECI to 6 percent in January, Rajan is expected to shift focus towards getting it down to around 5 percent by March 2017.

That’s an ambitious target for a country that less than two years ago suffered double-digit inflation. A recent pay hike to government employees and potential food price shocks could easily push up consumer price inflation from the 5 percent hit in October, analysts warned.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise U.S. rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade.

Although India has outperformed other emerging markets over the past two years, the country is not immune to Fed-related worries.

Concern about selling by foreign investors sent the rupee INR=D2 to a two-year low on Friday. During November, it lost more than 2 percent against the U.S. dollar, one of the worst performances in Asia, as foreign investors sold $1.5 billion in bonds and stocks.

A. Prasanna, an economist at ICICI Securities Primary Dealership Ltd in Mumbai, doubts that Indian interest rates can be cut before April.

“It is very difficult for inflation to sustain below 5 percent in India,” he said.

RBI Governor Rajan has eased the repo rate by 125 basis points since January, as inflation has eased thanks in large measure to a prolonged slump in commodity prices.

However, Rajan has been mindful of becoming dependent on this windfall. He has pushed the government to pass reforms and resolve problems such as poorly kept roads and historically high spending that has kept inflation high in India.

The governor has spent months improving the country’s defences against a Fed hike, building up foreign exchange reserves to near a record high of $352.37 billion, enough to cover about 10 months of imports.

(Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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Briton Fury crowned world champion after beating Klitschko | Reuters

DUESSELDORF, Germany Underdog Tyson Fury caused a huge boxing upset on Saturday, stunning Wladimir Klitschko with a points victory to snatch the champion’s four titles and become the first Briton to hold a world heavyweight crown since 2011.

Undefeated Fury, who improved his record to 25-0 and now has the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts, was never troubled by the 39-year-old Ukrainian who suffered his first loss in 11 years and has already demanded a rematch.

“He’s been a great champion, but every good dog has its day,” challenger Fury told a 50,000 crowd at Duesseldorf’s Esprit Arena.

“Tonight is that start of a new era. I will be the most charismatic champion since Muhammad Ali,” he said before serenading his wife in the crowd with a song by American band Aerosmith.

“I worked for six months for this in the gym, it’s a dream come true,” Fury said while draped in his new world title belts and unable to hold back the tears.

The fight, postponed once due to a Klitschko injury, almost did not take place with Fury’s team complaining earlier on Saturday over the thick ring canvas that they claimed limited his movement.

Modifications were made and Fury, quick, despite his 2.06 metres, was better from the start, showing no problems with the new canvas.

He kept landing left-right combinations with Klitschko, not used to fighting taller men than him, struggling with Fury’s reach.

Klitschko managed to get close with a few good left jabs in the second round but Fury landed a powerful right, pushing the Ukrainian back.

Fury, constantly changing between southpaw and orthodox stance, kept chipping away at Klitschko’s defences with his combinations and by the eighth round the champion was bleeding from a cheek wound.

Fury, who shed 32 kilos in five months to get in shape for the fight, landed a bruising left uppercut in the ninth that wounded Klitschko’s right eye.

Sensing the titles slipping away, Klitschko threw everything he had in the final round in search for a knockout but ended up losing on all three of the judges’ scorecards, putting an end to his winning run that stretched back to 2004.

“Tyson really stepped on the gas,” said a disappointed Klitschko, fighting in front of a home crowd with his base in Germany.

“I was missing my speed today and I struggled with his reach.

“I knew I was behind and had to land the punches. I tried but it did not work.”

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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India backs two degree global warming limit – French ministry source | Reuters

PARIS Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi clearly backs the goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, a source close to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Saturday.

Leaders from 195 nations will meet from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris to try to nail down an agreement after the last global climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 collapsed.

Fabius, who will chair the conference, has embarked on a three-day tour to make sure big emerging nations are on board. He was in India on Friday and will be in South Africa on Sunday before heading to Brazil on Monday.

Narendra Modi said he wanted an agreement in Paris and that India shared without ambiguity the 2 degree goal” the French source said.

The aim of limiting average global warming to 2 degrees above pre-industrial times was agreed in 2010 in Mexico.

It was reaffirmed at meeting of G20 leaders in mid-November but only after tough discussions as France and other European countries lobbied for its insertion in the final G20 statement.

(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; writing by Dominique Vidalon; editing by David Clarke and David Evans)

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Putin says seeks global anti-terrorism fight after 19 killed in Mali attack | Reuters

BAMAKO Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday he wanted global cooperation to combat terrorism in the wake of an Islamist militant attack on a luxury hotel in Mali that killed 19 people including six Russians.

Friday’s assault came a week after militants killed 130 people in gun and bomb attacks in Paris claimed by Islamic State, and three weeks after a Russian airliner was downed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula by what Moscow and Western governments say was a bomb, killing 224 all people aboard.

The bloodshed at the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali, a former French colony, evoked the problems French troops and U.N. peacekeepers face in restoring security and order in a West African state that has battled rebels and militants in its weakly governed desert north for years.

Jihadist groups Al Mourabitoun and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack, which ended when Malian commandos stormed the building and rescued 170 people, many of them foreigners.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said two militants were killed in the commando operation.

His government increased security at strategic points around Bamako at the start of a declared 10-day state of emergency.

“Mali will not shut down because of this attack. Paris and New York were not shut down and Mali won’t be. Terrorism will not win,” Keita said during a visit to the hotel on Saturday.

Six employees of Russian regional airline Volga-Dnepr were killed, Russia’s foreign ministry said, while six others were rescued.

Putin sent a telegram of condolences to Keita and said “the widest international cooperation” was needed to confront global terrorism, according to a statement by the Kremlin.

On Tuesday, Putin pledged to hunt down militants responsible for blowing up the airliner, as well as intensified air strikes against militants in Syria, after the Kremlin concluded a bomb had destroyed the plane.

Putin and French President Francois Hollande also spoke by phone on Tuesday and agreed to boost coordination of their military actions in fighting jihadist militants in Syria.

Chinese President Xi Jinping condemned the “cruel and savage” attack, whose dead included three Chinese executives of a state-run railway firm.

“China will strengthen cooperation with the international community, resolutely crack down on violent terrorist operations that devastate innocent lives and safeguard world peace and security,” the Beijing Foreign Ministry quoted Xi as saying in a statement on its website.

One American and a deputy from a regional parliament in Belgium were also killed in the Bamako hotel attack, though French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he was not aware of any French nationals killed.


The attack began at 7 a.m. on Friday when gunmen killed guards at the entrance of the hotel and barged inside.

Malian commandos subsequently stormed the hotel and rescued around 170 people, many of whom had been hiding under beds or in side-rooms and rushed terrified from the building to safety as shooting continued inside.

By around 4 p.m. the hotel was secured but Malians woke on Saturday to a sense of shock at the latest high-profile raid by Islamists this year.

“I feel bruised by this atrocious act, which cannot be justified. No nation, no human life deserves such criminal barbarity,” said Oumar Fomba, a teacher. “I urge the Malian government to fight more fiercely against terrorism.”

In a speech on the sidelines of a summit with Asian nations in Malaysia, U.S. President Barack Obama described the raid in Mali as “another awful reminder of the scourge of terrorism”.

“Once again, this barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge. We will stand with the people of Mali as they work to rid their country of terrorists and strengthen their democracy. With allies and partners, the United States will be relentless.”


The attack was another jolting setback for France after the shock of the Paris carnage. France has stationed 3,500 troops in northern Mali to try to restore stability after a rebellion in 2012 by ethnic Tuaregs that was later hijacked by jihadists linked to al Qaeda.

“We (France) have proved to be as blind as the Malian elite. Nothing changes in Mali. The elite continues to act like it always has, as does the international community,” said Laurent Bigot, former undersecretary in charge of West Africa at France’s foreign ministry, alluding to U.N. peacekeepers.

“People have been ringing the alarm bell for a long time, but it doesn’t do any good,” Bigot, who now works as a consultant, told Reuters.

The attack also refocused attention on a veteran leader of Al Mourabitoun, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a few months after reports, never confirmed, that he was killed in an air strike.

Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda, for most of 2012. They were driven out by a French-led military operation, but violence has continued.

Al Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks, including an assault on a hotel in the town of Sevare, 600 km (375 miles) northeast of Bamako, in August in which 17 people including five U.N. staff were killed.

Belmokhtar is blamed for a large-scale assault on an Algerian gas field in 2013 and a major figure in insurgencies across North Africa.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, an Islamic State militant in Syria told Reuters the organisation viewed France’s military intervention in Mali as another reason to target France and French interests.

(Additional reporting by Joe Penney in Bamako, John Irish in Paris, Jason Bush in Moscow and Michael Martina in Beijing; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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At least 27 dead after Islamists seize luxury hotel in Mali’s capital | Reuters

BAMAKO At least 27 people were reported dead on Friday after Malian commandos stormed a luxury hotel in the capital Bamako with at least 170 people inside, many of them foreigners, that had been seized by Islamist gunmen.

The former French colony has been battling Islamist rebels for several years, and the jihadist group Al Mourabitoun, allied to al Qaeda and based in the deserts of northern Mali, claimed responsibility for the attack in a tweet.

By late afternoon, ministerial adviser Amadou Sangho told the French television station BFMTV that no more hostages were being held.

But a U.N. official said U.N. peacekeepers on the scene had seen 27 bodies in a preliminary count, and that a search of hotel was continuing. It was not clear whether any of the gunmen, who were said to have dug in on the seventh floor of the hotel as special forces advanced on them, were still active.

State television showed footage of troops in camouflage fatigues wielding AK47s in the lobby of the Radisson Blu, one of Bamako’s smartest hotels and beloved of foreigners. In the background, a body lay under a brown blanket at the bottom of a flight of stairs.

The peacekeepers saw 12 dead bodies in the basement of the hotel and another 15 on the second floor, the U.N. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. He added that the U.N. troops were still helping Malian authorities search the hotel.

A man working for a Belgian regional parliament was among the dead, the assembly said.

Minister of Internal Security Colonel Salif Traoré said the gunmen had burst through a security barrier at 7 a.m. (0700 GMT), spraying the area with gunfire and shouting “Allahu Akbar”, or “God is great” in Arabic.


Occasional bursts of gunfire were heard as the assailants went through the seven-storey building, room-by-room and floor-by-floor, one senior security source and a witness told Reuters.

Some people were freed by the attackers after showing they could recite verses from the Koran, while others were brought out by security forces or managed to escape under their own steam.

One of the rescued hostages, celebrated Guinean singer Sékouba ‘Bambino’ Diabate, said he had overheard two of the assailants speaking in English as they searched the room next to his.

“We heard shots coming from the reception area. I didn’t dare go out of my room because it felt like this wasn’t just simple pistols – these were shots from military weapons,” Diabate told Reuters by phone.

“The attackers went into the room next to mine. I stayed still, hidden under the bed, not making a noise,” he said. “I heard them say in English ‘Did you load it?’, ‘Let’s go’.”

The raid on the hotel, which lies just west of the city centre near government ministries and diplomatic offices, came a week after Islamic State militants killed 129 people in Paris, raising fears that French nationals were being specifically targeted.

Twelve Air France flight crew were in the building but all were extracted safely, the French national carrier said.

A Turkish official said five of seven Turkish Airlines staff had also managed to flee. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua said three of 10 Chinese tourists caught inside had been rescued.


Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita cut short a trip to a regional summit in Chad, his office said.

Northern Mali was occupied by Islamist fighters, some with links to al Qaeda, for most of 2012. They were driven out by a French-led military operation, but sporadic violence has continued in Mali’s central belt on the southern reaches of the Sahara, and in Bamako.

One security source said as many as 10 gunmen had stormed the building, although the company that runs the hotel, Rezidor Group, said it understood that there were only two attackers.

Al Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Mali, including an assault on a hotel in the town of Sevare, 600 km (375 miles) northeast of Bamako, in August in which 17 people including five U.N. staff were killed.

One of its leaders is Mokhtar Belmokhtar, blamed for a large-scale assault on an Algerian gas field in 2013 and a major figure in insurgencies across North Africa.

In the wake of last week’s Paris attacks, an Islamic State militant in Syria told Reuters the organisation viewed France’s military intervention in Mali as another reason to attack France and French interests.

“This is just the beginning. We also haven’t forgotten what happened in Mali,” said the non-Syrian fighter, who was contacted online by Reuters. “The bitterness from Mali, the arrogance of the French, will not be forgotten at all.”

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Joe Bavier and Ed Cropley; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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Paris attack suspect eludes police, complicating probe | Reuters

BRUSSELS/PARIS French police had three opportunities to catch a Belgian suspect in the Paris attacks and each time let him go, a defence lawyer said on Tuesday, adding to the missed signals complicating efforts to track down those behind an onslaught in which 129 people were killed.

Friday night’s attacks, claimed by Islamic State militants, raised security concerns around the world. Bomb fears prompted Hanover, Germany, police to call off a soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands two hours before game time on Tuesday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been due to attend.

In Syria, France and Russia bombed targets to punish Islamic State for the coordinated Paris massacre and the downing of a Russian airliner over Sinai on Oct. 31. In Moscow, the Kremlin acknowledged that a bomb had destroyed the jet last month, killing 224 people.

On the night of the attack in Paris, French police failed to capture Belgian Salah Abdeslam, believed to have played a central role in both planning and executing the Paris attacks, despite having stopped the car in which he was riding three times during a massive manhunt, Xavier Carette, the driver’s lawyer, said.

Police apparently had no idea the passenger in the car would later be identified as having been linked to the attacks.

Speaking to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, Carette said his client, Mohammed Amri, suspected nothing when his friend Abdeslam, 26, called two hours after the attacks for a ride to Brussels and said his car had broken down. Amri is in police custody; Abdeslam remains at large.

“You know, when you’re on a car journey, you can talk about everything and nothing, listen to music, even smoke a joint, but at no time, no, they didn’t talk about that,” Carette said of the massacre. He said young Arab men are used to police stops.

French prosecutors have identified five of the seven dead assailants from Friday – four Frenchmen and a fifth man who was fingerprinted in Greece among refugees last month. Abdeslam is one of two men police believe were directly involved and who subsequently escaped, not one as previously said.

Islamic State said they carried out the attacks in retaliation for French and Russian air raids in Iraq and Syria. Investigators said the Paris plot was hatched in Syria and nurtured in Belgium.


Syrian targets hit by Russian long-range bombers and cruise missiles on Tuesday included the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. French warplanes also targeted Raqqa on Tuesday evening in the third such bombing raid within 48 hours.

Paris and Moscow are not coordinating their operations, but French President Francois Hollande has called for a global campaign against the radicals in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to hunt down those responsible and intensify air strikes against Islamists in Syria.

The Kremlin said Putin spoke to Hollande by telephone and had ordered the Russian navy to establish contact with a French naval force heading to the eastern Mediterranean, led by an aircraft carrier, and to treat them as allies.

“We need to work out a plan with them of joint sea and air actions,” Putin told military chiefs.

“Maybe today this grand coalition with Russia is possible,” French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told TF1 television channel on Tuesday evening.

Hollande will visit Putin in Moscow on Nov. 26, two days after the French leader is due to meet U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington to push for a concerted drive against Islamic State, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

A French presidential source said Hollande also spoke by phone to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who backed calls for a united front against the militants.

In Brussels, Le Drian invoked the EU’s mutual assistance clause for the first time since the 2009 Lisbon Treaty introduced the possibility, saying he expected help with French operations in Syria, Iraq and Africa.

The 28 EU member states accepted the French request, but it was not immediately clear what assistance would be forthcoming.


Police in Hanover, Germany, said bomb fears prompted them to call off the soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands, but no arrests were made and no explosives were found.

“We had received specific indications that an attack with explosives was planned,” Hanover Police President Volker Kluwe told NDR state broadcaster. “We took them seriously, and that is why we took the measures.”

One of the Friday night targets was outside a Paris stadium where France was playing Germany in a friendly soccer match.

At London’s Wembley Stadium, lit up in the blue, white and red of the French flag, English soccer fans saluted their French opponents at a friendly soccer match on Tuesday by roaring out an emotional rendition of the “Marseillaise” national anthem.

England won the match, 2-0.


The discovery that at least one of the Paris gunmen was believed to have slipped into Europe among migrants registered in Greece prompted several Western countries to begin to question their willingness to take in refugees.

Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives, worried about Islamist militant attacks, threatened to suspend President Barack Obama’s efforts to allow 10,000 more Syrian refugees into the United States.

The White House said it was looking for ways to tighten screening, noting that people escaping war-torn Syria already undergo rigorous vetting.

Both Republicans and Democrats have voiced fears that housing refugees from a conflict zone in the Middle East could eventually leave the United States open to attacks like those staged by al Qaeda in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, Matthias Blamont, Andrew Callus, Marine Pennetier, Emmanuel Jarry, Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Jean-Baptiste Vey in Paris and Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; Writing by Howard Goller; Editing by Ken Wills)

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Islamic State claims Paris attacks that killed 127 | Reuters

PARIS Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for a coordinated assault by gunmen and bombers that killed 127 people at locations across Paris, which President Francois Hollande said amounted to an act of war against France.

In the worst attack, a Paris city hall official said four gunmen systematically slaughtered at least 87 young people at a rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall before anti-terrorist commandos launched an assault on the building. Dozens of survivors were rescued, and bodies were still being recovered on Saturday morning.

Some 40 more people were killed in five other attacks in the Paris region, the official said, including an apparent double suicide bombing outside the Stade de France national stadium, where Hollande and the German foreign minister were watching a friendly soccer international.

The assaults came as France, a founder member of the U.S.-led coalition waging air strikes against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, was on high alert for terrorist attacks.

It was the worst such attack in Europe since the Madrid train bombings of 2004, in which 191 died.

Hollande said the attacks had been organised from abroad by Islamic State “barbarians”, with internal help. Sources close to the investigation said a Syrian passport had been found near the body of one of the suicide bombers.

“Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action,” Hollande said after an emergency meeting of security chiefs. He also announced three days of national mourning.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy added in a statement: “The war we must wage should be total.”

During a visit to Vienna, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “we are witnessing a kind of medieval and modern fascism at the same time.”

In its claim of responsibility, Islamic State said the attacks were a response to France’s campaign against its fighters.

It also distributed an undated video in which a militant said France would not live peacefully as long it took part in U.S.-led bombing raids against them.

“As long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear travelling to the market,” said a bearded Arabic-speaking militant, flanked by other fighters.

A French government source told Reuters there were 127 dead, 67 in critical condition and 116 wounded. Six attackers blew themselves up and one was shot by police. There may have been an eighth attacker, but this was not confirmed.

The attacks, in which automatic weapons and explosives belts were used, lasted 40 minutes.

“The terrorists, the murderers, raked several cafe terraces with machine-gun fire before entering (the concert hall). There were many victims in terrible, atrocious conditions in several places,” police prefect Michel Cadot told reporters.


After being whisked from the stadium near the blasts, Hollande declared a national state of emergency, the first since World War Two. Border controls were temporarily reimposed to stop perpetrators escaping.

Local sports events were suspended, department stores closed, the rock band U2 cancelled a concert, and schools, universities and municipal buildings were ordered to stay shut on Saturday. Some rail and air services were expected to run.

Sylvestre, a young man who was at the Stade de France when bombs went off there, said he was saved by his cellphone, which he was holding to his ear when debris hit it.

“This is the cell phone that took the hit, it’s what saved me,” he said. “Otherwise my head would have been blown to bits,” he said, showing the phone with its screen smashed.

French newspapers spoke of “carnage” and “horror”. Le Figaro’s headline said: “War in the heart of Paris” on a black background with a picture of people on stretchers.

Emergency services were mobilised, police leave was cancelled, 1,500 army reinforcements were drafted into the Paris region and hospitals recalled staff to cope with the casualties.

Radio stations warned Parisians to stay at home and urged residents to give shelter to anyone caught out in the street.

The deadliest attack was on the Bataclan, a popular concert venue where the Californian rock group Eagles of Death Metal was performing. Some witnesses in the hall said they heard the gunmen shout Islamic chants and slogans condemning France’s role in Syria.

The hall is near the former offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. France has been on high alert since Islamist gunmen attacked the paper and a kosher supermarket in January, killing 18 people.

Those attacks briefly united France in defence of freedom of speech, with a mass demonstration of more than a million people. But that unity has since broken down, with far-right populist Marine Le Pen gaining on both mainstream parties by blaming immigration and Islam for France’s security problems.

It was not clear what political impact the latest attacks would have less than a month before regional elections in which Le Pen’s National Front is set to make further advances.

The governing Socialist Party and the National Front suspended their election campaigns.

U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel led a global chorus of solidarity with France. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the “despicable attacks” while Pope Francis called the killings “inhuman”.

France ordered increased security at its sites abroad. Italy, Russia, Belgium, Hungary and the Netherlands also tightened security measures.

Poland, meanwhile, said that the attacks meant it could not now take its share of migrants under a European Union plan. Many of the migrants currently flooding into Europe are refugees from Syria.

Julien Pearce, a journalist from Europe 1 radio, was inside the concert hall when the shooting began. In an eyewitness report posted on the station’s website, Pearce said several very young individuals, who were not wearing masks, entered the hall during the concert, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and started “blindly shooting at the crowd”.

“There were bodies everywhere,” he said.


The gunmen shot their victims in the back, finishing some off at point-blank range before reloading their guns and firing again, Pearce said, after escaping into the street by a stage door, carrying a wounded girl on his shoulder.

Toon, a 22-year-old messenger who lives near the Bataclan, was going into the concert hall with two friends at around 10.30 p.m. (2130 GMT) when he saw three young men dressed in black and armed with machine guns. He stayed outside.

One of the gunmen began firing into the crowd. “People were falling like dominoes,” he told Reuters. He saw people shot in the leg, shoulder and back, with several lying on the floor, apparently dead.

Two explosions were heard near the Stade de France in the northern suburb of Saint-Denis, where the France-Germany soccer match was being played. A witness said one of the detonations blew people into the air outside a McDonald’s restaurant opposite the stadium.

In central Paris, shooting erupted in mid-evening outside a Cambodian restaurant in the capital’s 10th district.

Eighteen people were killed when a gunman opened fire on Friday night diners sitting at outdoor terraces in the popular Charonne area nearby in the 11th district.

The prosecutor mentioned five locations in close proximity where shootings took place around the same time.

(Additional reporting by Geert de Clercq, Jean-Baptiste Vey, Emmanuel Jarry, Elizabeth Pineau, Julien Pretot and Bate Felix Tabi-Tabe; Writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Rosberg fastest on first day of practice | Reuters

SAO PAULO Nico Rosberg turned the tables on Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton with the fastest lap in Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix practice on Friday.

After triple world champion Hamilton had set the pace in the morning with a lap more than half a second faster than the German, Rosberg ended the afternoon 0.458 quicker than the Briton with a lap of one minute 12.385 seconds on soft tyres.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third fastest in both sessions.

Fernando Alonso brought out red flags early in the afternoon when his McLaren stopped on the track with smoke coming from the engine.

Hamilton, who had delayed his arrival in Brazil due to a fever and after a car accident in Monaco in the early hours of Tuesday morning, has never triumphed in Brazil in eight attempts while Rosberg won last year.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, using the latest specification Renault engine, was fourth and fifth respectively in the sessions.

With both titles already decided, Hamilton having won his third world crown in Texas last month, teams used the morning session to work on developments for next season with aerodynamic sensors prominent on bodywork.

Mercedes drew a lot of interest for a prominent bulge on the nose that was rumoured to be an ‘S Duct’, a device helping to channel air from under the car to the top surface of the front section.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who was fifth and fourth fastest, saw his rear brakes lock into turn four and he tracked across the mud and gravel without further incident.

Lotus reserve Jolyon Palmer, who will be one of the team’s race drivers next year, was involved in the morning’s other moment of near drama when his car was released from the garage into the path of McLaren’s Jenson Button who braked.

Hamilton’s return to the track came amid headlines about his party lifestyle with the 30-year-old, whose helmet this weekend carries a tribute to his late boyhood idol Ayrton Senna, recognising he had been overdoing things.

“Heavy partying and not much rest for a week and a half,” the Briton told reporters.

“I am a bit run down. I have been non-stop and trying to fit training in at the same time and not getting a lot of sleep.”

(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Afghan police fire warning shots as Hazara rally boils over | Reuters

KABULAfghan police on Wednesday fired into the air to disperse protesters who tried to scale the walls of a building near the President’s palace as anger boiled over at the murder of seven members of the Hazara ethnic minority by Islamist militants.

Live television pictures from a protest march by thousands of Hazara showed members of the crowd scatter as police fired warning shots. The images showed one young woman being carried away, but it was unclear if she had been hit by gunfire.

In one of the biggest demonstrations in Kabul in years, thousands of protesters marched through the Afghan capital to demand government action after the killers dumped the partially beheaded bodies of their victims.

The Hazara are a Persian-speaking, mainly Shia minority who have long faced persecution in Afghanistan, with thousands massacred by the Taliban and al Qaeda in the 1990s, but a series of murders and kidnappings this year has stoked a mood of growing despair.

“The only way to prevent such crimes in the future is to take over all government offices until they wake up and make a decision,” said demonstrator Sayed Karim, 40, one of thousands who filled the whole of Mazari Square in western Kabul.

Besides swelling the daily toll of killings, the deaths of the seven Hazara, who included three women and two children, have heightened the risk that sectarian hatred will further poison the climate in a country made up of a mix of different ethnicities.

Bearing the green-draped coffins of the dead and carrying banners with slogans such as “The Taliban are committing crimes and the government is supporting them”, the crowd marched more than 10 km (six miles) to the presidential palace.

“We have come here to ask the government to give us the perpetrators, so we can take revenge,” said Taranom Sayedi, another protester.

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the killings and promised an investigation but they have fuelled a growing sense of insecurity since the Taliban briefly seized control of the key northern city of Kunduz in late September.

Ghani’s national unity government has come under increasing pressure to address parliament on the worsening security situation.

“This sends a very dangerous message to the people of Afghanistan, its government and its international allies,” said Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, speaker of the lower house of parliament.

“This issue doesn’t belong to a family, a tribe or an ethnic group, but it belongs to all Afghans.”

The killings in the southern province of Zabul occurred amid fighting between rival Taliban factions and Islamic State militants that has underlined the risk of further fragmentation, complicating any reopening of the peace process and creating the risk of more generalised anarchy.

Demonstrators said Hazara people were being killed every day on the roads between Ghazni, Bamyan and Wardak provinces to the west of Kabul, where the Taliban control much of the countryside after international forces stopped most combat operations last year.

Besides the Taliban and Islamic State, many Hazara have directed their anger against the Pashtun, the largest ethnic group, from which the Islamist movements recruit most of their followers.

“We’re from this country,” said a demonstrator who gave her name only as Sohaila. “We have to have the same rights as other citizens.”

(Additional reporting by Sayed Hassib and Samar Zwak Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Nick Macfie and Clarence Fernandez)

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India extend lead after Ashwin takes five | Reuters

MOHALI, IndiaCheteshwar Pujara’s unbeaten 63 gave India a firm hold on the opening test against South Africa after off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin picked up his 13th five-wicket haul to restrict the touring side to 184 on the second day on Friday.

Pujara compiled his seventh half-century in tests to lead India to 125 for two at stumps, an overall lead of 142 in the low-scoring match.

He added 86 for the second wicket with Murali Vijay (47), who fell to an acrobatic catch at short leg by substitute fielder Temba Bavuma, after opener Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed for his second duck of the match to Vernon Philander.

India captain Virat Kohli was unbeaten on 11.

Dale Steyn, the world’s number one bowler, was troubled by a tight groin and did not take the field as a precaution in a blow to South Africa’s hopes of restricting India to a low total in the second innings.

AB de Villiers struggled initially but made a swashbuckling 63 off 83 balls to top score for his side, who conceded a first-innings lead of 17.

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, returning to the test arena for the first time in almost 15 months, took three wickets while leg-spinner Amit Mishra picked up the other two.

South Africa, who resumed on 28-2 after dismissing the hosts for 201, appeared set for a first-innings lead through a stubborn third-wicket stand of 76 between Dean Elgar (37) and captain Hashim Amla (43) before Ashwin struck.


The 29-year-old, who had dismissed Stiaan van Zyl the previous evening, sent back Elgar after the opening batsman had kept India at bay for 75 minutes along with Amla.

Kohli opted not to open with Ashwin and Jadeja, who looked the most likely to pick up wickets on a Mohali pitch offering plenty of assistance to the spin bowlers, but soon found success once he did turn to them.

Elgar survived some nervous moments until he attempted a rash slog-sweep against Ashwin, with the ball taking a top edge and falling into the hands of Jadeja at short third man.

Amla looked unperturbed and displayed a solid technique against the Indian slow bowlers before he fell in a freakish way to the off-spinner.

The right-hander danced down the track but missed the ball, which hit wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha’s chest to drop on the off-stump with Amla short of his crease.

Ashwin also dismissed wicketkeeper Dane Vilas (1) in the same over for his fourth wicket, after the batsman top-edged a sweep for Jadeja to complete a tumbling catch at short fine leg.

De Villiers survived a confident appeal for caught behind off Jadeja before he had opened his account and after a few more loud leg before appeals against him were turned down, the 31-year-old finally edged the left-arm spinner to Kohli.

However, he was given not out after replays showed the bowler had marginally overstepped during the delivery.

De Villiers then went on the attack and completed his 37th fifty in tests before getting bowled by a beautiful delivery from Mishra.

(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O’Brien/Peter Rutherford)

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