PARIS: Sirens blaring, blood on the roads, weeping relatives: nightmare scenes played out on the streets of Paris on Friday night as at least 120 people were killed in simultaneous attacks. Pierre Montfort lives close to a Cambodian restaurant on Rue Bichat, where one of seven attacks took place in a night of bloodshed not seen in decades. “We heard the sound of guns, 30-second bursts. It was endless. We thought it was fireworks,” he said.
Another witness described the scene: “For a moment, we could only see the flames from the gun. We were scared, how did we know he wasn’t going to shoot the windows?” Florence said she arrived by scooter a minute or so after. “It was surreal, everyone was on the ground. No one was moving inside the Petit Cambodge restaurant and everyone was on the ground in bar Carillon,” she said. “It was very calm-people didn’t understand what was going on. A young girl was being carried in the arms of a young man. She seemed to be dead.”
On Rue Charonne, a little further east, fire engines drive past, their sirens wailing. A man said he heard shots ring out, in sharp bursts, for two or three minutes. “I saw several bloody bodies on the ground. I don’t know if they were dead,” he said. “There was blood everywhere,” said another witness. Outside the Saint-Louis Hospital in the north of the capital a police cordon had been set up. Standing nearby, a tearful man said his sister had been killed. At his side, his mother burst into tears and collapsed into his arms. “They won’t let us pass,” he said, pointing at the intersection 50 metres (yards) away. Further east, near the Bataclan concert hall and not far from the scene of another deadly attack in January on the offices of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, the area was on lock down.
Police say around 100 people were killed at the music venue, with reports saying armed attackers shot dead people attending a rock concert one by one before police stormed the building. “My wife was in Bataclan, it’s a catastrophe,” said one man as he tried to run into the site but was blocked by the police cordon. “All I can tell you is that it’s worse than Charlie Hebdo,” said a security officer. In the north of Paris, near the Stade de France stadium, three explosions left at least five dead as France were playing a friendly football match against Germany. “We heard explosions 25 minutes after the start of the match. It continued as normal. I thought it was a joke,” said Ludovic Klein, 37, who came from Limoges to watch the match with his 10-year-old son. – AFP
Paris attack targets
PARIS: The string of coordinated attacks in and around Paris late Friday left more than 120 people dead, in the worst such violence in France’s history. The assailants struck at least six different venues, ranging from the Stade de France football stadium to a pizzeria.
Bataclan concert hall, 82 dead
A full house of 1,500 people were packed into the popular venue in eastern Paris for a concert by the US band Eagles of Death Metal. About an hour after the band took to the stage, the concert hall was turned into “a bloodbath” according to a French radio reporter at the scene. Black-clad gunmen wielding AK-47s stormed into the hall and fired calmly and methodically at hundreds of screaming concert-goers. Fellow radio presenter Pierre Janaszak heard the first shots and thought it was part of the act. “But we quickly understood. They were just firing into the crowd.” He said he heard an attacker say, “It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria.” Four assailants were killed after police stormed in-three by activating their suicide vests and a fourth shot dead-but not before they had killed at least 82 people.
Stade de France, 4 dead
Three loud explosions were heard outside France’s national stadium during the first half of a friendly international football match between France and Germany. At least four people died outside the glittering venue which staged the 1998 World Cup final with several others seriously hurt. One of the explosions was near a McDonald’s restaurant on the fringes of the stadium. At least one of the two explosions in rue Jules-Rimet was a suicide bomb attack. French President Francois Hollande, who was watching the game, was immediately evacuated. The two sides played on to the end. Afterwards, bewildered fans poured onto the pitch while waiting for all the exits to be declared secure. The stadium emptied in a relatively calm atmosphere.
Rue de Charonne, 18 dead
A little further east, on Rue de Charonne, 18 people were killed, with one witness saying a Japanese restaurant and nearby cafe were the main targets. “There was blood everywhere,” the witness said. Another man said he heard shots ring out, in sharp bursts, for two or three minutes. “I saw several bloodied bodies on the ground. I don’t know if they were dead,” he said.
Rue Alibert, at least 12 dead
The terrace of a Cambodian restaurant on Rue Alibert in the 10th district, Le Petit Cambodge, was the scene of another attack, which killed at least 12 people. “We heard the sound of guns, 30-second bursts. It was endless. We thought it was fireworks,” Pierre Montfort, a local resident, said. Florence said she arrived by scooter a minute or so after. “It was surreal, everyone was on the ground. No one was moving inside the Petit Cambodge and everyone was on the ground in (the adjacent) Carillon bar,” she said. “It was very calm-people didn’t understand what was going on. A girl was being carried in the arms of a young man. She seemed to be dead.”
Rue de la Fontaine au Roi, at least 5 dead
A few hundred meters from the Bataclan, the terrace of the Casa Nostra pizzeria was targeted. Five people were killed by attackers wielding automatic rifles, according to witness Mathieu, 35. “There were at least five dead around me, others in the road, there was blood everywhere. I was very lucky.” Another witness said he saw shots being fired from a black Ford Focus.
Boulevard Voltaire, 1 dead
A judicial source said one of the attackers died when he detonated his suicide vest on Boulevard Voltaire, near the Bataclan. – AFP