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France marks first anniversary of Paris terror attacks

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France marks first anniversary of Paris terror attacks
French President Francois Hollande unveils the plaque at the Stade de France. Photo: Phillippe Wojazer/Pool/AFP
09:20 CET+01:00
France held a series of sombre ceremonies on Sunday to mark a year to the day since gunmen and suicide bombers from the Islamic State group killed 130 people in Paris.
French President Francois Hollande began the commemorations on Sunday morning by unveiling a plaque in memory of a man killed by suicide bombers at the Stade de France.   
 
The man, Manuel Dias, died outside the national stadium where France were playing Germany in a football match during the first attack of a series on the evening of November 13, 2015, that killed 130 people.
 
Stade de France was the first of six sites targeted on November 13, 2015 where Hollande is to unveil plaques.
 
Together with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo he then unveiled plaques at bars and restaurants in the trendy neighbourhood where gunmen sprayed bullets at revellers enjoying a Friday evening out.
 
The Local's editor Ben McPartland was in place at the trendy restaurant district of Canal Saint Martin, watching the commemorations.
 
 
 
 
"The ceremonies were short and low key at each venue targeted by the terrorists," McPartland reported. "The names of the victims are read out followed by a minute silence. The President and other members of the government greet some of the families then they move off to the next venue." 
 
 
 
 
 
"It's a painful day for all those who lost loved ones and those who survived the attacks. Indeed it is a sombre day for the whole of the city of Paris," McPartland concluded.
 
In the afternoon, crowds gathered at the Place de la République to pay their respects. 
 
 
 
Others wrote messages for their lost loved ones on the Canal Saint Martin, and on lanterns to be floated up. 
 
 
 
 
 
The final ceremony will take place at the Bataclan, the concert hall where 90 people were killed by three attackers during a rock gig in the culmination of the carnage.Rock superstar Sting reopened the refurbished Bataclan with a hugely symbolic show on Saturday.
 
"We will not forget them," the British singer told the crowd in French after a minute's silence for the victims. "Tonight we have two tasks to achieve: first to remember those who lost their lives in the attack, and then to celebrate life and music in this historic place," he said.
   
Sting began the emotionally charged concert with his song "Fragile", singing: "Nothing comes from violence and nothing will."
   
Many in the crowd wept during the first song, before the more upbeat "Message In a Bottle". "I'll send an SOS to the world," he sang. "Only hope can keep us alive."
 
Scores of survivors of the attack attended the sold-out concert. Among them was Aurelien, who had been determined to return to the scene of so much horror.
   
"It's the first time I've been in a public space for a year. I haven't been to the cinema, to a concert, I get my shopping delivered -- I've always stayed at mine," said the man in his thirties, who did not want to give his full name.
   
"Tonight I'm taking my life back like it was before. It's a duty, there's an obligation to be here -- because there are 90 people who can't come anymore," he added, visibly moved, his hands trembling.
   
The wave of attacks profoundly shook France but Prime Minister Manuel Valls vowed Saturday that "Islamist terrorism" would be defeated once and for all.  
 
 "Terrorism will strike us again," he warned. "But we have in ourselves all the resources to resist and all the strength to beat it," he said.
   
France is part of the international coalition launching air strikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.
   
At home, the country remains under a state of emergency, while terrorism and the role of Islam are key themes six months before presidential elections.
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