Paris terror attacks

'There was blood, bodies everywhere'

People light candles and place flowers to pay tribute for the victims of the Paris attacks, in front of the French Embassy in Vienna.
People light candles and place flowers to pay tribute for the victims of the Paris attacks, in front of the French Embassy in Vienna. PHOTO: EPA

Second bout of carnage in less than a year strikes fear into heart of traumatised city

PARIS • It should have been a Friday night like any other in central Paris, with locals and visitors alike watching a show, enjoying a meal or shrugging off the cares of the week over a drink.

But for the second time in less than a year, France and the world are asking how carnage could strike at the heart of this much- loved city, including at one of its most popular concert halls barely a few hundred steps from January's deadly attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The 150-year-old Bataclan music hall was sold out for a show by the American group Eagles of Death Metal and the band was playing when suddenly, four men brandishing AK-47 assault rifles entered. There were shouts of "Allahu akbar" just before they opened fire, leaving more than 80 people dead.

Terrified survivors described running over bodies and hiding after the gunmen stormed the venue.

Mr Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter, was with his sister and friends when they heard shots.

10 HORRIFIC MINUTES

It was a bloodbath. People yelled, screamed and everybody was lying on the floor, and it lasted for 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 horrific minutes, where everybody was on the floor covering their heads.

MR JULIEN PEARCE, a reporter for France's Europe 1 radio station

"At first we thought it was part of the show, but we quickly understood," he told Agence France- Presse. "They didn't stop firing. There was blood everywhere, bodies everywhere. We heard screaming. Everyone was trying to flee."

Mr Janaszak and his party hid in a toilet, where they would spend the next two hours waiting for police to storm the building and rescue the survivors.

He added: "I clearly heard them say, 'It is the fault of Hollande, it is the fault of your President, he should not have intervened in Syria.' They also spoke about Iraq."

Mr Julien Pearce, a reporter for France's Europe 1 radio station, told CNN about the "10 horrific minutes" when the black-clothed gunmen calmly opened fire.

"It was a bloodbath. People yelled, screamed and everybody was lying on the floor, and it lasted for 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 horrific minutes...

"We heard so many gunshots, and the terrorists were very calm, very determined, and they reloaded three or four times," said Mr Pearce.

He said he carried a teenage girl who was bleeding heavily to a taxi, telling the driver to take her to hospital. He said he saw the face of one gunman, who was probably 20 to 25 years old.

There were attacks at five other locations - near the national stadium and in four of Paris' busiest nightlife streets and intersections, including the Boulevard Voltaire and the Rue de Charonne.

Three loud blasts were heard outside the Stade de France during the first half of a friendly international football match between France and Germany. At least four people died outside the glittering venue of 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.

One man, Sylvestre, told the BBC he was saved by his mobile phone. "Everything was blown to bits, and I felt stuff flying around," he was quoted as saying by Reuters "This is the cellphone that took the hit, it is what saved me. Otherwise, my head would have been blown to bits," he said, showing the phone's smashed screen.

A little further east, in Rue de Charonne, 19 people were killed, with one witness saying a Japanese restaurant and nearby cafe were the main targets.

"There was blood everywhere," the witness said.

The terrace of a Cambodian restaurant in 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," said local resident Pierre Montfort.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 15, 2015, with the headline ''There was blood, bodies everywhere''. Print Edition | Subscribe