Diners were out sharing drinks and world class cuisine with friends, others were out catching a concert at the Bataclan concert venue, and sports fans were cheering on their country’s team at the football match. It was just another Friday night in la Ville Lumière. But it wouldn’t be long before friends and tourists sharing laughs and fond memories in the making would instead be sharing grief and screams of sheer horror when gunmen and suicide bombers took to the streets of Paris, leaving nothing but a trail of carnage in their wake.
It was nearly 11pm Central European Time when reports of the mayhem in Paris began rolling in. First were reports of masked gunmen wielding AK47s shooting diners on a terrace in front of Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon restaurants. Witnesses described the men as “firing in all directions”, including at passing vehicles. Many diners were able to dive to the ground and take cover, but at least 18 were not so lucky.
Police were quick to arrive to the scene, but before they even had a chance to determine how many had perished in the gunfire, more terror was erupting in the adjacent 11th district, where American band The Eagles of Death Metal were playing at the Bataclan concert venue. Diners outside of a nearby pizzaria were gunned down as the men made their way into the venue and opened fire into the crowd.
The band and a number of other concert-goers were able to escape, but up to 100 people were still trapped within the building. Some hid in the attic portion of the venue, while others dove to the ground and played dead as the men systematically executed concert attendees in the disabled section and others still trapped in the area.
At least two men then detonated explosive vests they were wearing as police began to close in and take control of the situation, adding to the bloodbath inside the building.
As police were dealing with the hostage situation and attempting to offer assistance to victims in the streets, three additional attacks were reported. This time it was in front of Stade de France. Ticket holding men attempting to enter the stadium during the France v Germany football match were denied entry into the venue. Though their initial plan did not go off as expected, that did not deter the men from detonating bomb packs strapped to their belts. One man did manage to get inside the venue, while two others remained outside on the streets. Three perished outside of the stadium as fans cheered inside. Unaware of the horror going on outside of the stadium walls.
Moments after the blasts, organizers began evacuating patrons. There was a bustle of confusion as football fans attempted to make sense of the chaos, but overall the evacuation was successful as fans formed orderly queues to exit the stadium, singing France’s national anthem as they filed out.
In total, there were five major target sites involved in the attacks including: The Stade de France, The Bataclan concert venue, along with local bars and restaurants located on Avenue de la République, Rue de Charonne, and Rue de la Fontaine au Roi. Three of the suicide bomb attacks were at the Stade de France alone. A state of emergency was declared in the city of Paris and borders were secured around France. Parisians and tourists left stranded were forced to take shelter in local businesses and with hospitable locals for the evening as military personnel swarmed the streets.
By morning the French prosecutor announces that 129 people had died in the attacks, while close to 350 more were injured, including nearly 100 of them sustaining critical injuries. The attacks would mark the sixth attack on France this year by Syrian terrorists. Investigations and arrests are still being made in connection to the attacks, including several in Belgium.