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TERRORISM

Fake ‘Friday the 13th’ terror attack on Cannes hotel

A fake terror attack panicked guests at the French Riviera hideaway of several Hollywood stars at the Cannes film festival, police said Saturday.

Fake 'Friday the 13th' terror attack on Cannes hotel
A security officer seen through a palm sculpture on the eve of the 69th Cannes Film Festival. Photo: AFP

The publicity stunt, by a French internet company aimed at the super rich, saw a speedboat full of men in helmets and military style uniforms attempt to storm the dock of the five-star Hotel du Cap just around the bay from Cannes.

Guests said the men were dressed as an “ISIS-like” militia group, referring to the Islamic State group which killed 130 people in a night of attacks on Paris six months ago.

Their inflatable speedboat also flew a black flag similar to the one used by IS.

Chillingly, the stunt happened on Friday, the first Friday the 13th since the bloodshed in Paris last November.

American publicist J.R. Savet, who was dining on the terrace with Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter when the boat approached, said guests were shocked.

“Someone screamed and people jumped out of their chairs and started moving quickly to the swimming pool area. It was pretty scary,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.

Cannes has been on high terror alert for the 12-day film festival, with a warship moored in the bay and snipers posted on hotel roofs.

Oraxy, the Paris-based internet company that organised the stunt, has not yet replied to AFP requests for comment.

It describes itself on its website as “the world's first private global marketplace reserved… for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals.”

A police spokesman told AFP that the men involved in the stunt had earlier tried to breach a sea exclusion zone around Cannes but had been repulsed by the authorities.

He said that the men then tried to land at the hotel. Paramilitary gendarmes seized the boat, but the men were not formally arrested.

“These men know that they have really overstepped the mark and today they feel ashamed,” he added.

A justice official told AFP that those behind the stunt were “likely to pay very dearly,” and would be prosecuted for breaking maritime rules and for inflicting “psychological trauma”.

The authorities were also investigating who owns the boat and rented it out, he said.

The speedboat had earlier buzzed the yacht of Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg, the “Seven Seas”, and another owned by Russian billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich.

The Hotel du Cap — also known as Eden Roch — on the ritzy Cap d'Antibes, refused to comment on the incident or say which stars were in the hotel at the time.

The hotel will be the venue for the amfAR AIDS research fundraiser on Thursday, one of the most glamorous annual celebrity parties outside of Oscars night.

This year's event for the charity, founded by the late actress Elizabeth Taylor, will be hosted by Hollywood stars Sharon Stone, Adrien Brody and American pop star Katy Perry.

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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