Sting reopens Bataclan concert hall a year after Paris attacks

Security officers guarding the entrance of the Bataclan concert hall yesterday, hours before the reopening concert by Sting.
Security officers guarding the entrance of the Bataclan concert hall yesterday, hours before the reopening concert by Sting.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • Rock star Sting was to reopen the Bataclan, the revered Paris concert hall where ISIS extremists massacred 90 people, with a hugely symbolic show to mark the first anniversary of France's bloodiest terror attacks.

Scores of survivors of the Bataclan assault - the worst of the gun and suicide attacks across the city that night which left 130 dead - were to attend the concert at 9pm last night (4am today Singapore time), the dominant event in a weekend of otherwise low-key commemorations.

On Friday, Nov 13, 2015, a night of horror began when three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Stade de France national stadium. Other Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) gangs opened fire on defenceless people on cafe terraces, but the worst nightmare was in the Bataclan, where cowering or wounded concert goers were coldly shot dead one by one.

In comments published yesterday, France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls vowed to end "Islamist terrorism" once and for all.

"(People) are concerned, we owe them the truth. Yes, terrorism will strike us again," warned Mr Valls in a statement published by several European newspapers.

"But yes, we have in ourselves all the resources to resist and all the strength to beat it. We Europeans will defeat Islamist terrorism!"

Today, French President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo will unveil plaques to the victims outside the national stadium, the Bataclan and bars and restaurants targeted that night.

A year later, nine people out of the around 400 injured in the rampage are still in hospital.

Reflecting the desire by music lovers to revive the scarred Bataclan, the hour-long concert by the British singer sold out within minutes of going on sale on Tuesday.

Hundreds of places have been kept for those who survived the attack. Families, psychologists and counsellors were to be on hand to support them.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Russia's security service said yesterday it had detained 10 people with alleged links to ISIS on suspicion of plotting armed attacks in Moscow and St Petersburg.

The FSB security service said it had detained 10 people originating from Central Asia who were "planning to commit a series of high-profile acts of sabotage and terror in Moscow and St Petersburg".

It said the suspects, detained in an operation in conjunction with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, had testified to contacts with ISIS leaders. The group was suspected of plotting to murder civilians in busy public places using automatic weapons and powerful homemade explosive devices.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'Sting reopens Bataclan concert hall a year after Paris attacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe