The four University of Richmond students studying abroad in Paris "have been contacted and are safe," Martha Merritt, dean of International Education, wrote in an email about four hours after terrorists carried out the deadliest attack in France since World War II.
More than 120 people were killed and over 200 were injured, 80 critically, after attackers struck at least six locations, including a concert venue, soccer stadium and restaurants, with explosives, automatic guns and hostage-seizing. French President Francois Hollande closed the country's borders and declared France’s first state of emergency since 2005.
Arielle Siner, WC ’17, who is studying abroad in London, was in Paris for a few days before the attacks and was visiting family south of Paris in the Loire Valley when the attackers struck. She wrote that she had been in a car driving home when her mom’s best friend heard the news on the radio.
“Everyone pretty much broke out into tears and my 5-year-old cousin had no idea what was going on,” she wrote.
“It's also very nerve wracking since so many of my friends are in Europe and I'm anxious about any other threats or possible acts around the continent and in general,” Siner continued.
Richmond’s Office of International Education has been actively monitoring the situation, Jacquelyn Fetrow, provost and vice president for academic affairs, wrote in an email to faculty, staff and students.
“Our students currently studying in Paris are safe,” Fetrow wrote. “We have reached out to all students studying in Europe this semester and have asked them to be in contact with the university. Already, we have heard from many, including some who were visiting in Paris, and they are safe.”
As of 10:35 p.m., no Americans had been reported killed, yet 70 Americans were known to be in France and had not been accounted for. The New York Times reported at 9:07 a.m. today that Americans were among those wounded in Paris.
”The U.S. government is working closely with French authorities to identify American victims,” Mark Toner, the deputy spokesman for the State Department, said in a statement. “We are aware there are Americans among the injured, and are offering them the full range of consular assistance.”
The deadliest scene was at a sold-out Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan concert hall where the attackers held concertgoers hostage. None of the band members were injured, according to The Washington Post. At least one of the attackers is believed to be a French national, AFP reports.
Eight of the attackers have been killed – seven of them via suicide bombings – but accomplices could still be on the loose, according to police. On Saturday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had “carefully chosen locations in the heart of the capital of France” in retaliation for French airstrikes on its territory in the Middle East.
Hollande called the attacks an "act of war" and said the atrocities were, “against France, against the values that we defend everywhere in the world, against what we are: A free country that means something to the whole planet."
Word leaders, including Barack Obama, condemned the attacks.
"Once again, we've seen an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians," Obama said. "This is an attack not just on Paris, it's attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share."
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