'It was a bloodbath' - Paris reporter

  • 14/11/2015
French fire brigade members near the Bataclan concert hall (Reuters)
French fire brigade members near the Bataclan concert hall (Reuters)

A French radio reporter inside a Paris concert hall has given a harrowing account of the "10 horrific minutes" when black-clothed gunmen wielding AK-47s entered and fired calmly and randomly at hundreds of screaming concertgoers.

"It was a bloodbath," Julien Pearce, a reporter for France's Europe 1 radio station, told CNN.

"People yelled, screamed and everybody lying on the floor, and it lasted for 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 horrific minutes where everybody was on the floor covering their head[s]."

"We heard so many gunshots and the terrorists were very calm, very determined and they reloaded three or four times their weapons and they didn't shout anything. They didn't say anything."

Pearce recounted seeing 20 to 25 bodies on the floor and others very badly injured.

Police sources later said at least 100 people were killed in the Bataclan venue in one of six attacks in and around Paris.

Another witness said gunmen shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is great) fired into the terrified crowd who were in the Bataclan theatre for a Friday night concert by American rock band Eagles of Death Metal.

Pearce said he was lucky to be near the front of the stage as the gunmen, wearing black clothes and wielding AK-47s, opened fire.

"People started to try to escape, to walk on people on the floor and try to find the exits, and I found an exit when the terrorists reloaded their guns in the meantime, and I climbed on the stage and we found an exit."

The journalist said he took a teenage girl who was bleeding heavily and carried her to a taxi where he told the driver to take her to hospital.

He said that as he was speaking to CNN, some of his friends were still hiding inside the theatre.

"They are hiding in some kind of room in the dark and they text me, and they are very afraid, of course, and they are waiting for the police to intervene, but it's been over two hours now and this is terrible."

Later in the night police stormed the venue. At least two suspected assailants were shot dead during the assault.

Pearce said he saw the face of one of the gunmen, who was probably 20 to 25 years old.

Asked if he could hear what language they were speaking, he replied, "Nothing. I heard nothing, just the yelling and screaming of the people. They didn't shout anything. They didn't say anything. They said nothing. They just shot. They just shoot. They were just shooting at people.

"What happened was terrible. I mean, honestly, 15 minutes, 10 minutes of gunshots firing randomly in a small concert room. I mean, it's not a huge concert room. It's a small one. Two-thousand people were there maximum and it was - it was horrible."

 

Eagles of Death Metal safe

California-based rock band Eagles of Death Metal was in the midst of a European tour when the musicians found themselves caught up in a terror attack at a Paris concert hall.

The hall was one of several entertainment sites around Paris on Friday that were targeted by gunmen and bombers, killing dozens of people in what President Francois Hollande described as an unprecedented terrorist attack.

It was not immediately clear whether the band had taken the stage before gunman stormed the Bataclan music hall in the French capital.

But early indications were that members of the band, which also goes by the acronym EODM, were safe. The band was formed in the late 1990s by lifelong friends Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme, the group's only two permanent members.

The group's US-based publicist, Jennifer Ballantyne of Universal Music Enterprises, told Reuters by email that Homme - who is known for sitting out many of the group's live shows because of multiple commitments to other projects - was not in Paris with the band on Friday.

She said that Hughes was "there", without elaborating. But a Facebook post from members of the French band Red Lemons appeared to indicate Hughes, too, was safe, saying: "we were with your mates Jesse, Tuesday, the other musicians outside, they're safe, too, they took a cab."

The mention of "Jesse and Tuesday" presumably referred to Hughes and his fiance, porn star Tuesday Cross.

Ballantyne said that another EODM member she identified as Eden Galino was reportedly safe and not inside the venue, citing a Facebook post by yet another associate that said: "Hey everyone. I just spoke with Eden. He is fine."

A statement later posted on the band's Facebook page attributed to EODM, said: "We are still currently trying to determine the safety and whereabouts of all our band and crew. Our thoughts are with all of the people involved in this tragic situation."

According to early reports, the Bataclan was believed to have been attacked by two or three gunmen, who were said to have shouted slogans condemning France's role in Syria as they went through the concert hall shooting people.

The bloodshed comes about a month after the release of EODM's fourth album, Unzipped.

Homme and Hughes, both from the Southern California town of Palm Desert, met as teenagers. They perform with a wide range of other musicians who play under the EODM banner, both in the studio and in live concerts.

According to band lore, the group took its name from Homme's joking description of the Polish band Vader as "the Eagles of Death Metal," a reference he and Hughes ultimately adopted for their own musical collaboration that critics say is more in keeping with garage band rock than death metal rock.

AAP