PORTSMOUTH’S leader has spoken of her sadness and shock at the terror attacks in Paris last night.
Councillor Donna Jones, who is due to visit Paris in three weeks for talks about bringing the Tour De France to Portsmouth, said she was ‘appalled’ by the tragedy.
It comes as the death toll has risen to 127 and French president Francois Hollande declared the terror attacks as an ‘act of war’ and blamed the Islamic State terror group for the carnage.
Cllr Jones told The News: ‘It appears that the attacks are from ISIL in response to the Syrian air attacks led by America and supported by France.
‘The attacks last night are appalling and a sad indictment of the current state of play in the world.
‘In Portsmouth, as a military city, we are well-prepared for any preventative terrorist action and have excellent operation controls in place with the Royal Navy and local police.’
She added: ‘I am sad, shocked and appalled at the loss of human life.
‘There’s no place in a civilised society for terrorism.
‘Britain will do all it can to oust and stop the terrorist behaviour.’
She said security in Portsmouth and the rest of the UK was stepped up well in advance of the attack last night.
‘We already had a heightened state of alert anyway,’ she told The News.
‘The UK is on a heightened state of alert and has been for a while.’
She said she would need to take advice about whether she would go to Paris in December.
‘It’s an amazing city,’ she added.
This morning the Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were a response to air strikes in their territory.
Mr Hollande declared three days of national mourning and vowed that France would be ‘pitiless’ in its response to terrorism.
A manhunt is under way for accomplices of gunmen who targeted a concert hall and the French national football stadium and sprayed the terraces of bars and restaurants with gunfire in at least six almost simultaneous attacks.
French authorities said they believed all eight of those involved in the attacks were dead - seven of them killed by suicide bombs - but Paris’s chief prosecutor said it was possible other terrorists were still on the run.
Policing was being strengthened at ports and major events in the UK, and Prime Minister David Cameron was due to chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee which could raise the official assessment of the threat from international terrorism from its current ‘severe’ level.
In a televised address to the nation, Mr Hollande said the attacks were ‘committed by a terrorist army, the Islamic State group, a jihadist army, 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.’
He added that France ‘will be merciless toward the barbarians of Islamic State group’, and ‘will act by all means anywhere, inside or outside the country.
Mr Hollande said the French army and security forces were mobilised ‘at the highest possible level’ and insisted France would ‘triumph over barbarity.
‘What we are defending is our country, but more than that, it is our values,’ he said.
In a night of carnage in the French capital:
- Police stormed the Bataclan concert hall where hostages were being held, but attackers wearing suicide belts blew themselves up, leaving 80 people feared dead. A witness said one of the gunmen shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and said ‘This is for Syria’ - a possible reference to France’s participation in air strikes against Islamic State
- Two suicide attacks and a bombing took place at the Stade de France stadium, where Mr Hollande was among thousands of football fans watching the national side play a friendly against Germany
- Gunmen targeted bars and restaurants in the 10th and 11th arrondissements of central Paris
- As many as 18 people died when the terrace of La Belle Equipe was sprayed with gunfire, while around 14 people were killed at Le Carillon bar-cafe. There were also shootings at the nearby Cambodian restaurant Le Petit Cambodge and the La Casa Nostra pizzeria
A state of emergency was declared in France after the worst night of violence in the country since the Second World War.
The attacks come after the Charlie Hebdo atrocity in January, which saw 12 people killed after gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine.
They also came a day after Islamic State militant Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, was targeted in a US air strike in Syria.