PARIS — With ISIS claiming responsibility for the Paris attacks, the investigation moved beyond France as Belgian authorities made a number of arrests there in the first publicized apprehensions following Friday night’s bloodshed, a Belgian justice ministry spokeswoman told CNN on Saturday.
Meanwhile, at least one American is among the 129 dead, officials said. The U.S. victim was Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, of El Monte, California, a junior studying design in Paris for a semester while enrolled at California State University, Long Beach, the school said.
In Belgium, raids were conducted in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, justice ministry spokeswoman Sieghild Lacoere said. A car rented in Brussels was found near one of the sites of the Paris attacks, and “that’s what triggered the raids,” Lacoere told CNN.
In all, the raids took place in three homes in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, a Western intelligence source told CNN.
At least one of the raids is connected to the Paris attacks, according to the source, who is in contact with French and Belgian intelligence services. The other raids are connected to individuals known to Belgium intelligence, the source said. Some of the Paris attackers are also known to Belgium intelligence, the source added.
At least two Belgians were among the dead in France, the Belgian Foreign Ministry said.
One of the terrorists in Paris was identified as a 30-year-old French national from Courcouronnes in the city’s southern suburbs, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Saturday.
That individual was involved in the attack on a concert hall, had a criminal history, and was identified as having been radicalized in 2010, but that person had never been accused of terrorism, Molins said.
A source close to the investigation told CNN the attacker was identified by fingerprints.
The Paris attacks are the worst violence witnessed by France since World War II and were deemed by the French President “an act of war.”
In the nearly simultaneous attacks on Friday night, the assailants targeted six sites, the deadliest being a massacre at a concert hall where at least 80 people were killed.
In addition to the 129 people killed in Paris, 352 were injured — at least 99 seriously, Molins said Saturday.
The threat of ISIS is well-known, with the jihadist group’s atrocities in Syria and Iraq being met with condemnation and airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition that includes France.
But the scale and apparent coordination of Friday’s attacks inside the European Union, which comes on the heels of ISIS’ claim of taking down a Russian airliner in Egypt, represent an escalation of capabilities if confirmed.
In an online statement distributed by supporters Saturday, ISIS said eight militants wearing explosive belts and armed with machine guns attacked precisely selected areas in the French capital.
A Syrian passport was found near the body of an attacker outside one of the targeted sites, the Stade de France, according to a police source, CNN affiliate France 2 and other French media reported.
A source close to the investigation told CNN that an Egyptian passport was found on another attacker. “There is strong assumption that these passports are fake,” the source said.
Americans are among the injured, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said Saturday.
At least two Americans were hurt, and the number is expected to go up, a U.S. official told CNN.
French President Francois Hollande blamed the attacks on ISIS, and said they were planned from the outside — “with inside complicity.”
“When the terrorists are capable of doing such acts, they must know that they will face a France very determined,” he said.
While ISIS claims have not been confirmed, a senior U.S. intelligence official told CNN the U.S. government has “no reason to doubt” Hollande’s attribution of the attacks to the terrorist group.
The coordination and sophistication of such attacks are the most recent evidence that ISIS is eclipsing al Qaeda as the most significant global terrorist threat.
The attacks shook the conscience of a world.
Pope Francis called the attacks as a part of the “piecemeal Third World War,” he said Saturday.
“There is no religious or human justification for it,” he said in a telephone interview with TV2000, the television network of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
“I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them,” Pope Francis said in the interview, according to a statement from the Vatican. “I am moved and I am saddened. I do not understand, these things (are) hard to understand.”
Response in wake of attacks
Hollande issued a state of emergency as the attacks unfolded Friday.
On Saturday, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve elaborated that the state of emergency could mean restrictions on people’s movements. Border controls were tightened as of Friday, and the gendarmerie paramilitary police are on heightened alert, he said.
France has beefed up security forces at public transportation hubs, on the main roads and highways as well as everywhere in the center of Paris, Cazeneuve said following a meeting with Hollande.
The “scale and complexity” of the Paris attacks “surprised everyone,” said Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London.
Terror experts had been expecting some kind of attack but did not think ISIS capable of carrying off something on the scale of Friday’s terror, he said.
Airports in France remained open, and airlines were still flying there, though some airlines reported canceled flights.
Some airlines were offering refunds to passengers who decide they do not want to fly to Paris.
Night of horror
Gunmen hit Friday night when bars and restaurants were bustling with residents and tourists. When they stormed in, glass shattered under the rage of bullets. Excited weekend chatter turned into panicked screams.
One of the targets was near a soccer match as France played world champion Germany. Terrified fans huddled together and streamed onto the field after blasts went off. Others hugged.
At the Bataclan, a concert hall where most of the fatalities occurred, fans were listening to American rock band Eagles of Death Metal when the blasts started.
“People yelled, screamed,” said Julien Pearce, a radio reporter who was there. “It lasted for 10 minutes. Ten horrific minutes where everybody was on the floor covering their head.”
Eight terrorists are dead following the attacks, prosecutor’s spokeswoman Agnès Thibault-Lecuivre said.
The prosecutor’s office said it cannot confirm whether all terrorists were killed because it has not determined the total number of attackers.
Of the eight, seven died in suicide bombings, officials said.
Most of the deaths were inside the Bataclan concert hall, where a witness said gunmen stormed in, firing rifles and shouting, “Allah akbar.” At least 80 people died in the attack there.
At one point Friday, the Interior Ministry had put the death toll there at more than 100.
Later, the Paris prosecutor said the number of dead at the hall was “around 80.”
“We lay down on the floor not to get hurt. It was a huge panic,” Pearce said. “The terrorists shot at us for 10 to 15 minutes. It was a bloodbath.”
The gunmen seized hostages before French police stormed in and rescued dozens of people.
Four attackers were killed at the concert hall, including three who were wearing explosives belts, police spokesman Michel Cadot told France Info radio.
Michael Dorio, brother of Eagles of Death Metal drummer Julian Dorio, said he spoke to the musician after the attack.
Dorio said when his brother and his band mates heard the gunshots, they stopped playing, took off backstage and exited.
Bars and restaurants
Charlotte Brehaut and a friend were dining at a Cambodian restaurant in Paris, she said.
“All of a sudden, we heard huge gunshots and glass coming through the windows,” she said. “We ducked with the other diners.”
More people were killed at the Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, authorities said.
In addition to the Cambodian restaurant, others were killed in the 10th district of Paris. More people were killed on Avenue de la Republique, also in the 10th district of the French capital.
Others were killed outside La Belle Epuipe bar in the 11th district.
CNN iReporter Chris Morrow from San Diego was staying five minutes from the Cambodian restaurant covering an event.
“I heard an explosion and pop, pop, pop, which sounded like gunfire. I instinctively grabbed my phone and started filming out of the window.”
“The men were huddling around and there was no one on the street except them. They had long shotguns and seemed hysterical, screaming and not really sure what to do.
“They tried a few apartment doors, trying to get in but they were locked. In the end, they ran toward the river. I am not sure if they were police or the attackers.”
Some explosions hit near the Stade de France outside Paris, home of the national sports teams. Four people died in those attacks, authorities said.
One of the blasts appears to be a suicide bombing, a Western intelligence source told CNN.
Three suicide bombers died in the blasts. A dismembered body consistent with the aftermath of an explosion from that type of device was found at the scene, authorities said.
Solidarity and fear
There has been an outpouring of support and solidarity in Paris, but large gatherings in the streets have not materialized in part because the state of emergency prohibits those.
But there’s more to it than those restrictions, Paris Deputy Mayor Patrick Klugman said.
“There is more sadness and probably more fear,” Klugman told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “We don’t know yet if this terror in fact is over or not. And, from time to time on social media, you have more reports — most (of it) false news — but it shows how worried” the population is.
In the aftermath of the attacks, Parisians helped each other out by using social media to invite those in need inside their homes.
The message spread and “all around here, people opened up the doors of their buildings of their flats to welcome people,” Klugman said.
President Barack Obama spoke to Hollande and offered him support and condolences. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are closely monitoring the situation, but there is no credible or specific threat in the United States, a U.S. government official said.
“The two leaders pledged to work together, and with nations around the world, to defeat the scourge of terrorism,” the White House said in a statement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the attackers hate freedom, and vowed her nation will help lead the fight against terrorists.
In January, two gunmen attacked the Paris offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 and wounding 11.
Two attackers, who were brothers, said they wanted to punish the magazine for the publication of cartoons that they believed mocked the Prophet Mohammed. Two days later, the brothers were shot to death in a standoff with police in Dammartin-en-Goele.
Their associate attacked a Jewish grocery store in Paris, taking more than a dozen people hostage and killing four. Police stormed the kosher market and killed him.
Border security has been ramped up in the wake of the latest attacks, Hollande says.
Although the country has been wounded, “France always rises up again,” he said Saturday in the wake of the attacks.
He declared three days of national mourning.