Paris: attempt to piece together the set of events that led to the horrific attacks in Paris on Friday evening, witnesses and survivors have been sharing their harrowing accounts from various locations across the capital.
Mark Colclough, a 43-year-old psychotherapist was with a colleague on Rue de la Fontaine when he witnessed a gunman attack a café. In a disturbing account, published in the Guardian, Mr Colclough said: “We were about 20 metres away from the cafe when we heard a firecracker and I looked around and I could see a man, maybe 185cm tall, and the position made it clear he was shooting.
“He was standing in a shooting position. He had his right leg forward and he was standing with his left leg back. He was holding up to his left shoulder a long automatic machine gun – I saw it had a magazine beneath it.
“Everything he was wearing was tight, either boots or shoes and the trousers were tight, the jumper he was wearing was tight, no zippers or collars. Everything was toned black…
“He killed three or four individuals who were sitting in the chairs in front of the cafe. We saw them get shot down. They fell off their chairs onto the ground.”
One man, known only as Sylvestre, told French media that his mobile phone saved his life during the attack outside Stade de France. The man was pictured moments after the event still holding his Samsung mobile phone which had a smashed screen and a dent in one side. He said to iTele: “This is the cell phone that took the hit, it’s what saved me. Otherwise my head would have been blown to bits. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
The radio presenter, Pierre Janazak, was sitting on a balcony with his sister and friends when they heard shots from below about one hour into the concert by US rock band Eagles of Death Metal. He told the news agency AFP: “At first we thought it was part of the show but we quickly understood… they didn’t stop firing. There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. We heard screaming. Everyone was trying to flee.”
Janaszak and his friends hid in a toilet where they would spend the next two hours waiting for police to storm the building and rescue the survivors. Around 80 people are believed to have died in the assault.
He added: “They had 20 hostages, and we could hear them talking with them…”I clearly heard them say ‘It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria’. They also spoke about Iraq.”
A reporter for France’s Europe 1 radio station described the “10 horrific minutes” when black-clothed gunmen opened fire. He said: “It was a bloodbath… 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 heads.”
“We heard so many gunshots and the terrorists were very calm, very determined and they reloaded three or four times.
“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. I climbed on the stage and we found an exit.” The Europe 1 journalist said he took a teenage girl who was bleeding heavily and carried her to a taxi, telling the driver to take her to hospital.