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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Report: Several People Killed In Paris Shooting; Reports Of Explosions At France Soccer Stadium; Affiliate: At Least 18 Dead In Paris Shootings. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired November 13, 2015 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:30:01] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: When we compare the scale of the problem to what we face here in the U.S. and what countries in Europe, particularly a country like France faces, I mean, we're talking about an order of magnitude different.
During "Charlie Hebdo" French security officials would talk about hundreds of suspected Jihadis in the country sometimes perhaps even thousands. And they don't even have the resources to track all of them, right?
You need a number of people just to track one of them. So when you compare that to the states where the numbers tend to be in the dozens and we get very concerned about that then that is a real concern they have a factor of ten larger in a country like France.
And they also have a direct pipeline to France back and forth in fact from France to Syria and back. A lot of hundreds of French volunteers for a group like ISIS. And that's why there's great concern that the level of alert there is very high.
Again, we do not know that this is tied to that, but that is the background that French security forces face. You know, really on any given day. As you make the point, sounds of explosions, sounds of automatic gunfire that at least is an indication that that's a possibility.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Just for those of you tuning in right now, we're reporting on some very, very initial reports from Paris, France, of a shootout. Several people were killed. Seven others injured. A shooting at a restaurant in Central Paris late on Friday.
This is according to our affiliate in Paris BFMTV. Police are at the scene outside a restaurant where this incident took place. A witness also told BFMTV that firefighters are on the scene to treat the injured.
There has been in addition to this a report of some sort of loud sound, whether it is from gunfire or an explosion at a bar outside the French National Stadium where a soccer game was going on. We're going to take a very quick break and gather some more information to bring to you. So stay with us. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: Welcome back. We are continuing to follow this horrific breaking story out of France. There are now reports of explosions near or in a soccer stadium in France, the Stade de France where the president of France was watching a soccer match, President Hollande. He's now being rushed from the stadium to the Interior Ministry.
And the stadium we're told is in lockdown. He's going to the Interior Ministry to keep track of these unfolding events there because in addition to that incident at the stadium, police are saying there are 18 people who have been killed, 18 people who have been killed according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.
That is because of a shooting that took place at a restaurant which is in Eastern Paris in the Tenth District. We're told this is a trendy district, popular with a lot of young people. And somebody came into the restaurant and opened fire.
There are some initial reports that the individual had a Kalashnikov. We have not been able to confirm that at CNN but that is what's being reported in France.
Let's go right now to my colleague, Jim Sciutto, right here. So what we have based on this very early information, and I want to caution all of our viewers of course this is a story that is developing as you're watching television.
And information is coming in. And a lot of times initial reports from the police are not always 100 percent accurate. But based on what we know there seem to have been at least two events, two events, one at the French stadium, Stade de France, the other at this restaurant in Eastern Paris in a trendy restaurant that on a Friday night would be very filled.
Police now saying according to our affiliate 18 people killed according to a CNN affiliate BFMTV in France. The idea that there would be coinciding events makes this especially suspect in terms of it being a terrorist act.
SCIUTTO: That's right. And look right at that 18 dead is already more than the death toll of the "Charlie Hebdo" shootings. As you say, we do not know this is terrorism. What's significant about this? The fact there were two attacks.
The fact both were very public places, one particularly public and high profile the Stade De France an extremely well attended soccer match between France and Germany. The sound eyewitnesses saying of automatic gunfire, that's significant in a country such as France and reports at least from eyewitnesses of the sounds of explosions.
All those things are indicators of possible terrorism. But again, we do not know. This is terrorism at this point, but that death toll right there of 18 killed on the Paris streets is very unusual for a country like France where they have nothing like the prevalence of guns that we have here. It's just not the kind of shooting violence that they see there. TAPPER: Jim, let me interrupt for a second if you'll forgive me. Our affiliate in Paris, France, is reporting of a third incident in Paris, France now, A third incident, this one in the Eleventh District. We're told that in one of these locations, we're not sure which one, there are these three incidents.
There is an incident in the Tenth District that is at the restaurant, a trendy district popular with young people in East Paris. There is this other incident with guns, gunfire in the Eleventh District. And then there is this third location where explosions were heard at the Stade De France, a France national stadium where a soccer match was going on.
[16:40:08]The French president, Francois Hollande was in attendance. It is locked down. This is all eerily and disturbingly reminiscent of what we covered in January when there were attacks on the offices of "Charlie Hebdo" in Paris.
I believe in the Eleventh District, if I'm not mistaken, of Paris. And then there were two other attacks although they were not coincided. They did not happen all at the same time. But obviously this looks, Jim, again it's early reports now, initial reports, but we're told 18 dead according to our affiliate in Paris, France, BFMTV.
Police are saying 18 have been killed. I'm not sure if that's at one location or at all three locations. But rather disturbing news in a city in a country that is already been racked with the horrors of terrorism this year.
SCIUTTO: That's right. And just again, background, we will always caveat this because we don't know this is terrorism. But there are a lot of indicators that are parallels even to past terror attacks like the "Charlie Hebdo" one where you had two shootings, a hostage taking at the kosher grocery all this playing out in January.
But just to lay the groundwork for the threat in this country. French security police noting frequently they have hundreds, perhaps thousands of suspected Jihadis in the country, very difficult for them to follow. They have a very real threat.
TAPPER: CNN correspondent, Jim Betterman joins us now on the phone from Paris. Jim, what are your sources telling you about this horrific night? I'm sorry. I'm told it's not Jim Bitterman. It is Melissa Bell with France 24. Melissa, can you hear me?
MELISSA BELL, FRANCE 24 REPORTER (via telephone): Yes, I can.
TAPPER: Tell us what your sources are telling you, please.
BELL: What they're telling us as you've been hearing began in the Tenth District a shooting there another one in the Eleventh a series of explosions at the Stade De France. All over Paris all you can hear is the sounds of sirens.
The elite French police force has been involved in the "Charlie Hebdo" the end of its siege are making their way to the scenes to try and get this thing under control. But there's lots of confusion as you can imagine in Paris, a city really in a state of shock. The details only beginning to come out.
Lots of amateur footage emerging from some of the teams working the Eleventh particularly near the second scene of the shooting. Lots of very shocked people began shooting at people in a restaurant.
All kinds of rumors not confirmed about what might still be going on, but what appears now is that according to a number of early estimates 18 people have been killed.
TAPPER: Eighteen people and your sources are telling you what we've been hearing as well that there are three different incidents that we're told?
BELL: Three different incidents. The first was a shooting in the Tenth. Very quickly afterwards came in which the reporter on the ground says, my colleague says she saw herself five bodies, five dead people there.
The second one a few minutes later in the Eleventh not very far away in a street some amateur images emerging from there of a very damaged restaurant in which two men opened fire and there have been a number of people killed as well.
And then a series of explosions at about the same time as the Stade De France, of course the football match is on tonight.
TAPPER: Melissa Bell with France 24, police are saying 18 have been killed. Is that 18 just at the one of the three locations?
BELL: No. That appears to be an estimate of the people killed so far in several different instances. But it is as yet unconfirmed estimate. There's no telling really how high it's going to go. This is really only still just happened.
And lots of it is still going on. It's very little actual known fact, definitive fact for the time being a lot of speculation and early reports that there could be 18 people dead.
TAPPER: Right. Of course as we talk to you, Melissa Bell with France 24, to reiterate for all those watching we are bringing you the information from BFMTV, our affiliate, and from other correspondents with CNN, with France 24 as it comes into us, but this is a breaking news story.
And a lot of the initial reporting is speculative or is incomplete as we get this information from law enforcement officials and from others in Paris, France, where we're told there are at least three events that have taken place.
[16:45:06]One a shooting at a restaurant in Eastern Paris, one -- another event in the Eleventh District, the first event was in the tenth district. This would be the Eleventh District and a third event explosions at the Stade De France where a soccer game was going on. And President Hollande who was present had to be whisked away. He was taken away at the Interior Ministry right now. But the stadium we're told is in lockdown.
We're told also now by our affiliate that police are reporting that there are hostages at a fourth location, hostages at a fourth location at a theater. This is a night of terror in Paris, France.
This theater is in the Tenth District as was the restaurant. Paul Cruickshank, our senior terrorism analyst, tell me what your sources have been telling you about these horrific reports coming out of Paris, France, in a night of bloodshed.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN SENIOR TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Jake, you've just described it as a night of terror. And that is exactly what this seems to be from everything that we're hearing four different attacks in four different locations, an ongoing hostage situation, a bomb potentially or a grenade going off outside the national football stadium, the president of France having to be evacuated from that soccer match.
This is extremely disturbing. I'd be in touch with French national security reporters working their sources. Obviously the concern right now is this is some kind of terrorist event that is unfolding in Paris.
But you can't say that with any certainty because we're only in the opening stages of this it would appear. But just the sheer scale of this, the coordination that appears to be going on in different parts of the capital suggests something perhaps that was pre-planned, something major that has been in the works.
And French authorities have repeatedly said there's an unprecedented terrorist threat to France from Islamist terrorists, from ISIS inspired terrorists, from ISIS itself over a thousand French nationals have traveled to Syria and Iraq, 250 have come back.
Many of those joined with ISIS recently. President Hollande said they were thwarting getting information about terrorist plotting every single week new information is coming in.
Just a few days ago they thwarted a terrorist plot to attack the southern naval port of the home of the aircraft carrier. Over the last several months they've thwarted many terror plots in France ever since we saw those terrible events in January when so many were killed at the "Charlie Hebdo" satirical magazine.
And that kosher market. There have been many plots which have been thwarted, for example in April there was a plot thwarted to attack churches. In Paris that was orchestrated by French ISIS fighters in Turkey who persuaded a student to try to launch those attacks. That was thwarted.
There was that attempted attack on that passenger train going from Belgium to France in August. Three Americans prevented a blood bath that day by a gunman, again, the suspicion in that case that ISIS had some kind of involvement either inspiring or directing that attack.
So there is just huge concern in France. And this is the nightmare scenario everybody feared was going to happen, potentially unfolding right now and in the hours ahead -- Jake.
TAPPER: Paul Cruickshank, our senior terrorism analyst, Paul, thanks so much. If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to speed on what's going on in Paris, France, this evening. It's a horrific night of bloodshed.
We first heard reports of a man entering a restaurant in the Tenth District in Eastern Paris and opening fire. We also heard about another incident at a bar or restaurant in the Eleventh District. There was another event, a third event at the Stade De France, the French national stadium where a soccer match is going on. Some sort of explosion either outside or inside the stadium.
The president of France, Francois Hollande was present watching the soccer match. He was whisked to safety. He's now at the INTERIOR MINISTRY where he's watching these events unfold.
And now we have just learned in the last few minutes of a Fourth Event also in the Tenth District, which is where the initial restaurant attack took place, where there is an ongoing hostage situation in a theater.
[16:50:06]That is where we bring in Jim Sciutto, our senior national security correspondent who just got off the phone with French police. What are they telling you, Jim?
SCIUTTO: Just speaking to French police and clearly there's a lot of confusion there as well, or at least them as attempting to assess exactly how far and how many incidents there are. The police just now telling me there are a total of three attacks.
Looking at the map it is possible two of the attacks were very close to each other in the eleventh, but certainly one at the Stade De France and they believe there were one or possibly two explosive devices at Stade De France that they're investigating now.
And the weapons being used police say AK-47s, automatic rifles, so again these are the parallels we were talking about. Ak-47, use of explosives, that's what gives indicators of the possibility of a terrorist attack here.
Again, the French police telling me three attacks, and one of those at the Stade De France, there were one or possibly two explosions in these attacks that automatic weapons were used.
TAPPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks so much. I'm joined on the phone right now by freelance journalist, Seth Porges who was near one of the incidents. Seth, which incident were you near and what can you tell us?
SETH PORGES, FREELANCE JOURNALIST (via telephone): Yes, so I was right at the neighborhood in the tenth, which is where a shooting that appears to have been a Kalashnikov shooting went off. I was walking out of my apartment and I actually saw somebody with a bandage around their arm and large amount of blood dripping off of them.
I have no idea if this was related. Fire department took him away into an ambulance. Still it looked to me immediately like maybe he had cut his hand on glass. I didn't understand what had happened or if anything serious was going on.
I walk about ten paces and here's a large crowd of people and a lot of police. And at first I thought there was any sort of police activity that might occur, it's a Friday night in a very popular bar and nightclub and restaurant district.
And then I see police with guns hiding behind vans. As I said it looked like a scene from an action movie. It almost didn't look real. Yes.
TAPPER: The event you're talking about is the one in the Tenth District across the street from the restaurant?
PORGES: I'm not sure -- I got away from there, so I can't verify the name of the restaurant. But that's probably it. It's right at Canal St. Martin next to La Republic Plaza.
PORGES: So I get there and there are cops with what appear to be guns in their hands sort of hiding behind vans. Dozens and dozens of firemen running around every which way appeared they were attempting to close off the road.
There was a large group of pedestrians, onlookers at this point taking photos and just looking. And I don't think anybody realized the severity of what was happening or other events were occurring concurrently.
People are standing on benches, taking pictures. Nobody was trying to clear the pedestrians. At glance you would have thought it was a bar fight. And then people started talking.
And it appeared there were five or six shots in short succession that went off very quickly. And that probably led to fatalities. I heard differing reports on the street that people were shot in a restaurant and in a car, looking online appears the restaurant is the accurate one.
TAPPER: And Seth, you heard the gunfire itself coming from the restaurant?
PORGES: No, no, it happened about ten seconds before I stepped outside. It happened directly in front of my apartment building. It was not a bomb. There was no bomb over here.
TAPPER: All right. Seth Porges, thank you so much. Stay with us. I'm sure that Wolf Blitzer will want to talk to you in the next hour as we continue to cover this. Paul Cruickshank has been working the phones, working his sources, our senior terrorism analyst. Paul, what do you know?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, they're struggling to get to grips with this at the moment. They're in crisis mode in Paris. The president of the republic, Francois Hollande was evacuated from the national football stadium. He was there for a soccer match between Germany and France.
We understand he's rushed to the Interior Ministry to meet with the interior minister. And they're trying to grapple with what is going on, which is an unfolding situation. Reports of attacks in four locations and ongoing hostage siege in one of those locations.
A report of either grenades or explosions outside the Stade De France, obviously concern that there are gunmen on the loose right now in Paris armed with heavy weapons.
And if this is some kind of terrorist event as it certainly looks like at this point they'll be concerns that these people could have been people trained with ISIS who are skilled in killing people with these kind of weapons with these kind of explosives.
Around 250 people who fought in Syria and Iraq have come back to France. Europe wide we've seen 6,000 travel to Syria and Iraq.
[16:55:05] TAPPER: Thank you so much, Paul. France 24 is now reporting that there are 60 individuals being held hostage at a theater, a concert hall approximately 60 individuals being held hostage in Paris as part of this wave of terror that is going on in Paris, France, this evening.
There have been explosions, three explosions according to police telling our affiliate BFMTV three explosions outside the French soccer stadium, Stade De France as well as incidents at two restaurants, one in the Tenth District and another in the eleventh district.
Now we're told there are approximately 60 individuals being held hostage by gunmen in a theater of some sort, a concert hall perhaps. We're going to take a very, very quick break. When we come back Wolf Blitzer will be here with more on "THE SITUATION ROOM." Stay with us.