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TERRORISM

Bataclan: Devastated owners vow to reopen

In their first interview since the terror attacks the owners of the Bataclan vowed to reopen in 2016 saying it "mustn't become a mausoleum", while one of the bars targeted by gunmen is to reopen on Friday.

Bataclan: Devastated owners vow to reopen
Photo: AFP

The Bataclan concert hall in Paris, where 90 people were killed by jihadists on November 13th, could re-open by the end of next year, two of its owners told a French newspaper on Wednesday.

Olivier Poubelle and Jules Frutos, who book the acts and own a third of the theatre as well as several other music venues around the French capital, told Le Monde of their devastation over the attacks.

“Two of our colleagues are dead. As are music professionals that we knew well. Others are seriously injured. I was not in the theatre and I think about that all the time,” said Poubelle.

“An emergency worker told me 'You're not responsible', but still…”

Poubelle rushed to the venue on the fateful night, while the three-hour siege was still underway and people trapped inside were being gunned down.

“There were dead and injured all around,” he said. “(The police) wanted to know the layout and what they were going to find behind the door, how to get upstairs as quickly as possible.”

The two colleagues who died — a lighting technician and press person — worked at another venue and were simply on a night out, enjoying the gig by US rockers Eagles of Death Metal.

None of the 20-odd staff working that night were killed, though Poubelle told Le Monde that several “came within 10 centimetres (a few inches) of dying”.

Three bar staff hid in a storeroom, desperately holding the door closed with the tips of their fingers.

“Two security guards at the entrance saved lives,” Poubelle told the newspaper.

“They understood what was going on when they heard the gunfire in the bar.

“They didn't run, they went inside… and opened the emergency exits and shouted for everyone to leave.”

He said the teams from the five venues the pair own have stuck together since the attacks, trying to offer each other support and solidarity.

“When I saw the photos of the victims, there were many that I recognised,” added Frutos. “I may have never talked to them… but I've seen them in the hall or the bar. It's a terrible feeling.

“The only thing to say is that a 'joie de vivre' was murdered,” he added. 

They described the area — the 11th district in eastern Paris — as one of the more mixed and left-wing in France, but criticised attempts to label or politicise the attacks.

“They just wanted to kill as many people as possible,” said Poubelle.

Neither has been back inside since the violence, but still pass in front every day to see the crowds and mountain of tributes.

But they are keen for the music to return.

“It should not become a mausoleum. Or a site of pilgrimage,” said Frutos.

“The team wants a reconstruction, the artists too. We talk about it a lot. But it will be a long road,” he told the newspaper.

“We are dead for the moment. But we need life. It's vital that the doors reopen.”

Eagles of Death Metal have said they want to play the first concert if the Bataclan re-opens.

Other targeted venues to reopen


(Cafe Bonne Biere is set to reopen on Friday. Photo: AFP)
 

While the Bataclan is unlikely to open before the end of 2016, other venues that were hit by the terrorists should re-open in the coming weeks.

The first set to open its doors to clients is the Cafe Bonne Biere, where five people were gunned down on the terrace.

It is set to reopen its doors on Friday with management having made some changes to the lay-out “for psychological reasons”.

The restaurant Le Petit Cambodge and and Le Carillon bar, which stand just around the corner from the Cafe Bonne Biere, have also announced their intention to reopen.

While it is believed Le Petit Cambodge will wait until 2016, Le Carillon's owners told The Local they may reopen on December 10th.

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TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

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