Paris shooting: I will not live in fear, says Singaporean in French capital

Singaporean Sheila Hassan visited the scene of the shootings at the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday to pay her respects. -- PHOTO: SHEILA HASSAN
Singaporean Sheila Hassan visited the scene of the shootings at the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday to pay her respects. -- PHOTO: SHEILA HASSAN

Shocked by news of the massacre at the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, Singaporean Sheila Hassan visited the scene of the crime later in the day to pay her respects.

"I feel for the people of France," the 44-year-old former travel agent told The Straits Times. "I love Paris and I will not live in fear." Ms Hassan, who is studying French, said she came to know of the incident from the Facebook page of a French news agency.

Three black-hooded gunmen had forced their way into the magazine's offices around noon on Wednesday shouting Islamist slogans and firing indiscriminately at people in the lobby. They killed at least 12 people, including the magazine's editor and some of the country's best-known cartoonists.

When Ms Hassan visited the scene in the city's 11th arrondissement at 4pm, the roads had been cordoned off and the nearby Richard-Lenoir metro station remained closed.

Tensions were running high as police, ambulances and journalists flocked to the area.

"Policemen had to intervene at one point because of a heated argument," she said. "A guy had said something that offended another party."

Paris was placed under the "highest alert" status after the attack. Still, the city was not cowed, with people taking to the streets to show their solidarity with the victims.

Ms Hassan attended one such vigil at the Place de la Republique that evening. "Like many others, I braved the cold weather to show solidarity," she said. As of yesterday, Ms Hassan said there were still "high security alerts at the metro and tourist attractions".

National University of Singapore student Ernest Puey, 23, said he and his friends stayed indoors for most of Wednesday and got updates on the situation via social media.

The undergraduate, who is in Paris on exchange, said yesterday: "Most of the worry came from family and friends back home, whom we contacted through WhatsApp and Facebook.

"We will probably head out to get groceries later in the evening."

audreyt@sph.com.sg