Paris police relive night of horror at Bataclan concert hall

Nadine Ribet-Reinhart (centre), whose son was killed, stands in front of the Bataclan concert hall on March 17, 2016.
Nadine Ribet-Reinhart (centre), whose son was killed, stands in front of the Bataclan concert hall on March 17, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - Paris security forces on Thursday relived their harrowing operation to stop three Islamic militants who killed 90 people in the Bataclan concert hall in November, for lawmakers probing their response to the attack.

The shuttered entrance to the Bataclan was opened for police and lawmakers to enter the venue, as the distraught mother of one of the victims bemoaned "a parody of justice" because she was not informed of the exercise.

However, the lawmakers assured the tearful woman that police were retracing their steps in order to shed light on how they responded to a series of attacks which left a total of 130 people dead in Paris.

After two hours criss-crossing the venue to understand how the horrors played out, lawmakers praised the security forces for how they handled an intervention that has faced some criticism.

In the re-enactment ordered by a parliamentary investigative commission, the elite BRI police showed "minute by minute" how they stormed the venue and shot dead the three gunmen.

Questions have been raised over how long it took police to arrive, whether rivalries between elite units played a role and why it took three hours from the start of the attack to the end of the response.

"We can be proud of our security forces. Our feeling is that the force worked as it must. From the moment a policeman shot one of the terrorists, no one else was killed," lawmaker Meyer Habib told journalists after the visit.

"It took them two hours to finish advancing (and launch an assault), but a quarter of an hour for the first victims to be evacuated," he said.

"It took time to secure the venue. The terrorists could have blown themselves up, there were people in the pit, bodies, injured. It was terrible but they did their job," he added.

However, for those who lost loved ones in the attack, the re-enactment brought only pain and doubt.

"We wake up one morning and discover that there is going to be a re-enactment. No one told us. We have found out that there will not be any lawyers... no victims and no journalists involved," an emotional Nadine Ribet-Reinhart, whose 26-year-old son Valentin was killed in the Bataclan attack, said at the scene.

Fighting back tears, she added: "We still don't know what time our children died. On the death certificate, it says 'between November 13 and November 14'. We don't know when the rescue services arrived. We need information to be able to understand what happened."

Parliamentary commission member Georges Fenech responded that the lawmakers' aim is to shed as much light as possible on what happened.

"We are working for the sake of the victims."

The commission is also investigating the French state's response to the militant attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in January last year.

It is due to publish its report on July 14.