Paris terror attacks: Survivors and victims

Victims mostly young, well-educated, and accomplished

Mr Guillaume Decherf, 43, critic at top French magazine Les Inrocks. Ms Polina Volkova, who lost her friend, Eagles Of Death Metal's merchandise manager Nick Alexander, in the Paris attacks, crying near a makeshift vigil outside the consulate of Fran
Ms Polina Volkova, who lost her friend, Eagles Of Death Metal's merchandise manager Nick Alexander, in the Paris attacks, crying near a makeshift vigil outside the consulate of France in New York.PHOTO: REUTERS
Mr Guillaume Decherf, 43, critic at top French magazine Les Inrocks. Ms Polina Volkova, who lost her friend, Eagles Of Death Metal's merchandise manager Nick Alexander, in the Paris attacks, crying near a makeshift vigil outside the consulate of Fran
Mr Guillaume Decherf, 43, critic at top French magazine Les Inrocks. PHOTO: REUTERS
Mr Valentin Ribet, 26, a French criminal lawyer at Hogan Lovells.
Mr Valentin Ribet, 26, a French criminal lawyer at Hogan Lovells.

PARIS • A shining star, the nicest guy in the world, an architect and a young Muslim intellectual, and a man described as "everyone's best friend".

These are some of the sentiments expressed about victims of last Friday's horrific shootings. As details become available about the 129 people killed, a profile is emerging: mostly well-educated, accomplished people in their 20s, 30s and early 40s.

At least 25 foreigners were killed, including victims from the United States, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Sweden and Britain.

Most of the carnage last Friday occurred at the Bataclan, a 150- year-old music hall, where more than 80 people were killed during a sold-out show by the American band Eagles Of Death Metal.

The band, which plays a mix of bluegrass, blues and rock, has a loyal following in France among intellectuals and music connoisseurs. Several of the dead were passionate musicians and music fans, prompting emotional tributes from the music industry.

Mr Guillaume Decherf, 43, a critic at top French music magazine Les Inrocks, had written about the band and attended the concert. A father of two, he was one of those killed, the magazine said.

At least three employees of Universal Music France were among the dead. "The Universal Music family is in mourning," tweeted Universal Music France president Pascal Negre.

Londoner Nick Alexander, 36, who was the band's merchandise manager, was also killed at the concert hall. In a statement, his family said he was "everyone's best friend" and died "doing the job he loved".

Drummer Patrick Carney from American rock band The Black Keys told Rolling Stone: "I spent a lot of time with Nick, but the thing about the touring merch job, it's one of the more thankless jobs... He was a really organised, super-hard worker, really funny. I remember he looked more like a rock star than anyone else on the tour, in the best possible sense."

Many of the victims also embodied some of France's best hopes for its future. "They were young professionals, doing well in life," said Ms Amandine Panhard, whose cousin died in the attack. Her cousin Pierre-Antoine Henry was an engineer and father of two young daughters. "They killed the nicest guy in the world," she said.

Information about some of the victims in the Paris attacks has started to circulate in the press and on social media. While an official list has yet to be issued as about 20 to 30 bodies are still awaiting identification, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday that more than 100 bodies of those who died in the deadliest attack in France since World War II have been identified.

Mr Valentin Ribet, 26, a French criminal lawyer specialising in white-collar crime, was among the first victims to be named.

Hogan Lovells, the law firm Mr Ribet worked at, described him as "a talented lawyer, extremely well liked, and a wonderful personality in the office".

For French soccer star Lassana Diarra, who was playing against Germany in the Stade de France, it should have been a night to rejoice over his country's 2-0 victory. Instead, he found out that his cousin was one of those killed, reported the Washington Post.

For Mr Diarra, the Paris attack was not just tragic; it was also ironic. A devout Muslim, he himself had been falsely accused of joining the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

"In this climate of terror, it is important for us all, who are representatives of our country and our diversity, to speak out and stay united in the face of a terror that has nothing to do with colour or religion," he wrote on Twitter.

Mr Diarra's cousin was one of several Muslims whom the militant gunmen killed. Another was Mr Amine Ibnolmobarak, a 28-year- old Moroccan architect. He was with his wife Maya at the terrace of the Carillon bar when it was attacked by gunmen.

Mr Ibnolmobarak's former professor Jean Attali called him the "quintessential young Muslim intellectual" who hoped to spread the peaceful values of his religion, and praised him for the "amazing graduate study he conducted on the pilgrimage to Mecca".

Teachers, friends and family also mourned California State University student Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, who was the first American victim identified.

"Nohemi was something of a star in our department, she was a shining star, and she brought joy, happiness, laughter to everybody she worked with," Mr Michael LaForte, a professor at the university's Department of Design, said. "She functioned like a bit of a mentor to younger students, she was a deep, profound presence in our department, and she will be extraordinarily, profoundly missed."

NEW YORK TIMES, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2015, with the headline 'Victims mostly young, well-educated, and accomplished'. Print Edition | Subscribe