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TERRORISM

Singer in Paris attack says ‘sorry’ for alleging inside job

The frontman of the band whose concert was targeted in the Paris attacks apologized at the weekend for alleging that the club's security guards were involved, saying he was struggling with trauma.

Singer in Paris attack says 'sorry' for alleging inside job
Hughes also said that his earlier statements did not reflect the views of others in the band. Photo: AFP

“I humbly beg forgiveness from the people of France, the staff and security of the Bataclan, my fans, family, friends and anyone else hurt or offended by the absurd accusations I made,” said Jesse Hughes, singer and guitarist of Eagles of Death Metal.

“My suggestions that anyone affiliated with the Bataclan played a role in the events of November 13th are unfounded and baseless — and I take full responsibility for them,” he said in a statement.

The artist in an interview with the Fox Business channel had cast suspicion on the guards of the Bataclan club, suggesting that some had been involved in the attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

Hughes had cited as evidence the lack of eye contact of a guard in charge of the backstage area and what he said was the absence of around six security personnel on the night of the attack.

Ninety people were killed when assailants opened fire and hurled grenades during the set of the California garage rockers in the deadliest of a series of coordinated attacks around Paris.

The Bataclan, a historic venue for mid-sized acts in Paris, had strongly denied the rocker's suggestion, saying that its staff likely saved hundreds of lives and concluded that his judgment was clouded by the trauma.

Hughes offered a similar rationale in his apology, saying: “I've been dealing with non-stop nightmares and struggling through therapy to make sense of this tragedy and insanity. I haven't been myself since November 13th.”

Hughes also said that his earlier statements did not reflect the views of others in the band, declaring: “The shame is 100 percent mine.”

A total of 130 people were killed in the series of attacks, with 350 more injured, many of them grievously.

Hughes had not definitively alleged an inside job, saying that he was offering his own assessment as police complete their investigation.

Hughes in a previous interview also cast suspicion on security at the club, saying that the band's soundman spotted two people already in the club before the show whose attire and behavior were atypical for rock fans.

He also said that the assailants allowed several people to leave, which he offered as evidence that they were familiar with the club's audience.

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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