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TERRORISM

France comes together in show of support for UK

Across France, a country all too familiar with the horror of terror attacks, leaders and organisations have been voicing their sympathy and support for the UK in light of the Manchester terror attack on Monday evening.

France comes together in show of support for UK
Photo: AFP
In what is Britain's deadliest terror attack in 12 years, police said a man detonated a bomb at a concert in the northwest English city by US pop star Ariana Grande.
 
Children were among those killed, police have said, in what May called an “appalling terrorist attack”.
 
French President Emmanuel Macron voiced his “horror” at the attack that killed 22 people and said he plans to speak to British Prime Minister Theresa May.
 
On Tuesday afternoon Macron signed the book of condolences for the attack at the British Embassy in Paris, as reported by France 24 (see below).  
 
Macron “learnt with horror and shock about the attack that occurred on Monday evening,” his office said in a statement.
 
“He addresses all of France's compassion and concern to the people of Britain and stands by its side in this period of mourning, with a particular thought for the victims and their families,” the statement added.
 
French prime minister Edouard Philippe condemned the attack as “the most cowardly terrorism” that was aimed “specifically and knowingly” at young people.
 
“I call on my fellow citizens to observe the utmost vigilance, confronted as we are with a threat which is more present than ever,” Philippe said. 
 
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has responded to the attacks in a series of tweets, expressing her sympathies in both English and French. Hildalgo also confirmed that concerts would go ahead as planned on Tuesday in Paris. “It is essential to continue to live,” she wrote.

The Paris firemen, who also carry out ambulance duties and were on the front line during the Paris terror attacks, were among those organisations expressing their sympathy in response to the attack in Manchester. 
 

 
 

An organisation for the victims of the Paris terror attacks, Life for Paris posted their response on Facebook, saying, “We have just learned of the attacks in Manchester. It is still too early to determine its nature, but we do not consider that to be important — the violence remains the same.” 
 
The statement went on to say: “All our thoughts go to the victims, their families and friends who must be experiencing a painful moment of uncertainty.”
 
France has been a frequent target of attacks since January 2015 with more than 230 people killed, including 90 in the Bataclan concert hall in Paris during the November 2015 attacks.

 

 

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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