PARIS: President Francois Hollande vowed Friday (Saturday in Manila) to destroy the “army of fanatics” behind the Paris attacks but also said France would respond with more songs, concerts and shows, as the nation paused to honor the 130 killed.
“On November 13, a day we will never forget, France was hit at its very heart,” Hollande told a sombre commemoration in the Invalides, the 17th-century complex housing Napoleon’s tomb.
“To all of you, I solemnly promise that France will do everything to destroy the army of fanatics that committed these crimes,” he said.
A crowd of 2,600 dignitaries and some of those injured in the violence gathered in the courtyard of the historic building.
Some of the wounded sat in wheelchairs, while firefighters and ambulance personnel in uniform stood silently in rows, two weeks to the day since gunmen opened fire on bars, restaurants and a concert hall, and detonated suicide vests at the Stade de France stadium.
Photographs of the victims were displayed on a giant screen, their young faces evidence that the attackers struck at those enjoying a Friday night out in the French capital.
“We will not give in either to fear or to hate,” said Hollande, vowing that the French would respond to the attacks defiantly, with more “songs, concerts and shows. We will continue to go to stadiums.”
The attacks—claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group in response for French air strikes on the jihadists in Iraq and Syria—inflicted the worst-ever toll on French soil, leaving 130 dead and 350 injured. Most victims were under 35.
Hollande said “130 destinies had been stolen, 130 laughs that will never be heard again,” adding that they had come from more than 50 places in France and 17 countries.
The attackers acted “in the name of an insane cause and a betrayed God,” he said.
An international manhunt is still on for two key suspects in the attacks—Salah Abdeslam, who played a key logistical role in the wave of terror, and Mohamed Abrini, seen with Abdeslam two days before the November 13 atrocities.
With a UN climate summit due to start on the outskirts of Paris Monday, which around 150 heads of state and government are expected to attend, security across France is tight and rallies have been banned.
The police have carried out 1,836 raids nationwide since the attacks, with more than 500 people placed in custody or under house arrest, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday.