PARIS- At least one of the attackers involved in the Paris bloodshed had a ticket to the France-Germany soccer game at France's national soccer stadium and attempted to enter the 80,000-person venue, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday (Nov 15), citing a stadium security guard and French police.
It is believed that one of the attackers aimed to detonate his vest inside the Stade de France in order to provoke a deadly stampede, the report added.
The security guard-who asked to be identified only by his first name, Zouheir-was quoted by the paper as saying the attacker was discovered wearing an explosives vest when he was frisked at the entrance to the stadium about 15 minutes into the friendly match.
While attempting to back away from security, Zouheir said, the attacker detonated the vest, which was loaded with explosives and bolts.
A police officer confirmed the account, adding that police suspect the attacker aimed to detonate his vest inside the stadium in order to trigger a stampede.
Around three minutes later, a second person also blew himself up outside the stadium. A third suicide attacker detonated explosives at a nearby McDonald's, killing one civilian.
WSJ says the foiled suicide bombing in the stadium sheds light on why the attackers failed to cause the carnage that occurred at the Bataclan concert hall and restaurants elsewhere in Paris. At least 129 people died in the string of attacks on Friday.
The blasts occurred during the first half of the game, sowing confusion throughout the stadium. At least two blasts were heard clearly inside the stadium, witnesses said, and on the television broadcast.
At first, Zouheir said he too thought the early blast was a firecracker. Then his walkie-talkie came alive with chatter, and he noticed that French President François Hollande-who was in attendance at the Stade de France-was being ushered out of the stadium.
"Once I saw Hollande being evacuated, I knew it wasn't firecrackers," said Zouheir, who could see the VIP box from his post.
The game continued for the regular 90 minutes. French soccer federation head Noel le Graet said that the information wasn't communicated to the fans or the players in order to avoid a panic. Witnesses reported that news began to spread inside the stadium late in the second half.
Germany manager Joachim Löw said after the game that he feared an attack as soon as he heard the blasts.
"Of course we thought of it," he said. "It was very loud. You could imagine what had happened."
The German team was already rattled by a bomb threat at its hotel in Paris's 16th district on Friday morning and decided to remain at the Stade de France for the night.
"Mattresses were brought in," the team said in a statement on its website. "Some players managed to fall asleep but a number of them stayed up to discuss what was going on."
The Germans flew home from Paris early Saturday morning.