Charlie Hebdo attack: TV news executive says 'my reporters told me all they saw was blood'

 

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The Independent Online

Above Rue Nicolas Appert, a group of men and women watched two gunmen walking freely in the street below.

From the roof the group – reporters and editors who had fled their office at No 10 – filmed as the gunmen slipped away from police after killing 10 journalists at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Luc Hermann is the executive director of Premieres Lignes, a television company with offices in the same building and same floor as Charlie Hebdo. About 30 people were in his office today.

Warning: Viewers may find this video distressing

Speaking to The Independent from central Paris, he said: “Our reporters heard heavy fire – they immediately understood the building was under attack and Charlie Hebdo was the target. They sealed and blocked the front door.”

It was around June of 2012 that the satirical magazine moved to the drab offices on the second floor of the building in Rue Nicolas Appert, after its office was hit by a bombing in 2011.

 

“A bomb exploded at their previous offices,” said Mr Hermann. “We were proud to have them next door to our offices in our building. We knew they were under threat, and that made us proud.”

After the gunfire started, his team moved upstairs to the roof. “They are reporters, and once they knew they were safe, they wanted to film the attackers and tell the story,” Mr Hermann said. “They managed to film the attackers open fire on the police forces.”

After the attackers fled, Mr Hermann said, his staff had been the first to enter the Charlie Hebdo newsroom. “Three, maybe four, of our reporters entered the newsroom. They told me all they saw was blood everywhere. There were the bodies of those killed, and people injured.

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An injured person is carried out of the offices (Getty)

“They started helping people who were injured. It was extremely shocking for them. They [helped] them out of the building and met the security forces on the way up.”

Charlie Hebdo’s operation was not a big one, by the standards of many news organisations. “There were no more than 20 people in there,” said Mr Hermann. “It was hard for my colleagues to tell me what it was like in there.”

In the coming days, many will ask why the police protection, which had been stationed sporadically outside the offices of Charlie Hebdo was apparently not there. “It was completely unexpected,” said Mr Hermann of the massacre. “Crazy stuff happened over Christmas, perhaps terrorist attacks, but we as Parisians had no sign of any terrorist pressure coming.

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A police car riddled with bullets outside the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris (Getty)

“Two policemen were outside the front door of Charlie Hebdo in a car for a long time, but not in recent weeks. It was a visible police presence. Why they were not there is a major question.”

The magazine’s staff, including the cartoonist Cabu, who was among those killed, were widely admired in France, particularly by their neighbours in Rue Nicolas Appert. “This morning in Paris, in broad daylight, a team of killers brutally murdered reporters, editors and cartoonists in a major attack on the freedom of the press,” said Mr Hermann. “They were doing their job at their desk in a newsroom when they were killed.”

Before returning to the hospital where many of his staff were being treated for shock, he added: “Cabu was a very prominent senior [cartoonist] with a lot of talent. I would say hello to him in the corridors. I should have invited them to our office and we should have done more together but we were all so busy.”

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