Paris shootings: Witness stuck between two events
Ivor was sitting in a Paris restaurant when Twitter informed him that shootings and a hostage situation were unfolding just metres away.
At least 149 people were killed on Friday night in Paris, including at least 70 hostages at a theatre, in a series of seven coordinated attacks across the French capital.
“It was a blood bath.”
Julien Pearce, an eyewitness, who saw at least 20 people shot at Le Bataclan theatre
Gunmen are still on the loose, the borders have been closed, and the French Government has mobilised 1500 soldiers. The death toll is being constantly updated, as details of the toll of the surprise attacks unfolds.
A victim is pictured on the pavement outside a Paris restaurant on Friday. Photo: AP
“It is horror,” said French President Francois Hollande.
He is promising “a remorseless response against those responsible.”
Others called it a “night of terror” on a scale never seen before.
Police officers and rescue workers gather around a victim outside a Paris restaurant on Friday Photo: AP
Late Friday night French police stormed the historic theatre Le Bataclan, where gunmen had held more than 100 people hostage who were attending a rock concert by American band Eagles of Death Metal.
President Hollande declared a state of emergency. He announced an immediate inquiry into what most experts believe is a gross act of terrorism.
“We don’t know where they are coming from, or who is striking us,” said Mr Hollande. “In such difficult times, I have thoughts for the victims.”
People leave the Stade de France stadium after the international friendly soccer France against Germany on Friday. Photo: AP
He said it was important to show compassion and “keep cool.”
“What the terrorists want is for us to be scared. There is something to be scared about but in the face of terror we have to be united.”
“We have not finished the operation. There are some very difficult ones we are dealing with right now in Paris. Please have faith in our security forces that they can defend us against terrorism.”
French police are telling Parisians to stay indoors. Metro stations near the shootings have been closed, but taxi drivers turned off their meters and offering to drive people home for free.
An eye witness at the theatre, who was attending a rock concert, said there were at least two terrorists firing at people on the floor.
“Everyone was on the floor with their hands on their heads,” he said. “I saw 25 to 30 people lying on the floor,” said Julien Pearce, the eye witness.
He said the attackers appeared to be firing randomly at victims.
“It was a blood bath.”
Other eye witnesses reported six to eight hostage takers were marauding through the theatre looking for people hiding inside the theatre. Around 10.20am Sydney time, gunshots and the sounds of explosions were heard from inside the theatre.
President Hollande – evacuated after multiple explosions from the Stade de France in the middle of a packed soccer game – immediately launched an inquiry into whether it was a terrorist attack.
The deputy mayor of Paris said it was too soon to say the attacks were coordinated acts of terror but he conceded: “It looks that way”. According to French channel BFMTV, one of the gunmen at Bataclan shouted: “It’s for Syria” and “Allahu Akbar”. Another witness blamed the president, but it was unclear whether he was referring to Mr Hollande or US President Obama.
In other parts of Paris, dead bodies were covered up.
The French newspaper Le Monde reported that as many as seven attacks occurred nearly simultaneously across Paris on Friday night.
These attacks included:
- Reported suicide bombers outside the Stade de France where more than 70,000 fans were watching a soccer match between France and Germany
- An incident at Les Halles, a modern underground shopping centre next door to the Louvre, where French counter terrorism and hostage unit, GIGN, has been sent.
- Hostage situation in Le Bataclan theatre, where up to as many as 100 people are being held hostage. Hostage takes are still shooting people, but some people have escaped.
- Attacks in the 10th and 11th arrondissements of Paris where at least 10 people have been killed.
Heartbreaking, says President Barack Obama
US President Barack Obama called the Paris attacks heartbreaking and vowed to do whatever it takes to work with the French people through this situation.
“Once again we have seen an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians. This is an attack not just non-Paris not just on the people of France but on the universal values that we share,” he said.
President Obama said that the values of fraternity and liberty are values that will endure beyond any act of terrorism.
“The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with us time and again. Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress.”
“The American people draw strength from French people life and liberty we are reminded in this time of tragedy that the values of fraternity and liberty are values that we share.”
A US journalist has told CNN he was in an apartment nearby when the shooting occurred. He likened the scene to an “action movie or a video game” and “it was very chaotic”. He believes the gunman was on the loose: “The shooter is out there on the run.”
He said the shots had probably come from an automatic weapon: “There were five to six gun shots in quick successions, multiple successions.”
According to Le Figaro, there were two explosions at the Stade de France stadium nearby where France were playing Germany in a friendly. French president Francois Hollande was evacuated.
A BBC cameraman at the scene said he saw at least 10 people dead or badly hurt.
Le Figaro reports that the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux Paris – the public health system overseeing hospitals in the French capital – has triggered its ‘white plan’, which is used in extraordinary emergency situations.
The plan was last used during the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January. All emergency service personnel across the capital have been called in for duty.
Info: The Australian Embassy phone number in Paris is +33140593300 for those trying to contact friends and family in the region.
Within Australia: 1300 555 135
Outside Australia: +61 2 6261 3305
SMS: +61 421 269 080
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