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Paris attack: People who survived onslaught describe moment their night out turned to tragedy

'It was so silent - no one stood up, out of fear'

Amelia Jenne
,Chris Green
Saturday 14 November 2015 22:38 GMT
Tributes left outside Le Petit Cambodge, Paris, one of the venues for the attacks in the French capital.
Tributes left outside Le Petit Cambodge, Paris, one of the venues for the attacks in the French capital. (PA)

Not far from Place de la République, the weekend was beginning. The Le Carillon bar in rue Alibert was busy, as was Le Petit Cambodge, a Cambodian restaurant across the road. The crowds were also gathering at La Casa Nostra pizzeria in rue de la Fontaine au Roi.

Many who set out to spend Friday night in the 10th arrondissement considered themselves fortunate. The gunmen who terrorised Paris fired indiscriminately, with apparent impunity.

One 24-year-old Briton who was at Le Petit Cambodge and who asked not to be named, spoke to The Independent on Sunday. “We were just eating our starters in a spot by the window and then heard this sound like fireworks,” she said. “We thought it was people messing around and then suddenly we realised it was a round of about 30 to 40 shots. Everyone jumped to the floor and it went silent for about a minute. We thought it was over and then another round started.

“Shards of glass were flying past my head. When I heard the second round I thought this is going to be drawn out and I thought instantly of Charlie Hebdo, I worried it could be a hostage situation. I couldn’t see my friend but I was lying holding the hand of a woman next to me. When the shots had ended I looked up and saw she had been shot in the chest, there was blood everywhere.

“It was so silent. The silence was crippling. No one stood up, out of fear. I saw a man holding his girlfriend who’d been shot in his arms. We got up and it seems mad but our instinct was just to run home.”

One woman, an American who also asked not to be named, said she had been celebrating her birthday on the patio of a bar in rue Alibert, along with around 25 others, when the shooting began.

“We were all on the ground together holding hands,” she said. “It happened for what felt like for ever – maybe 90 seconds or something. And the gunmen reloaded. They started again – another minute or 90 seconds.” One of her friends was shot, but has received treatment.

Mathieu Muller, 37, was among the 80,000 people attending the football international match at the Stade de France with his sons Jacob, four, and Joshua, six, when three suicide bombers died in explosions outside the stadium. He said the crowd around him dismissed the loud bangs heard shortly after kick off as firecrackers.

“At half time everybody had fries and hot dogs – everything was as if nothing had happened,” he said. “But about 10 minutes from the end a man behind me said his wife had told him there had been bombings behind the stadium and attacks in Paris. There was no announcement about it in the stadium which I thought was pretty smart, but half of the stadium was closed and I was getting afraid.

“Luckily we found the exit and we stayed by the car until it calmed down a bit. But my neighbours who were near another door were separated like a wave of water, when people started running. If there had been panic there would have been big trouble because 80,000 people were trying to leave the stadium when half of it was closed. It could have been a lot worse.”

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