One of the music lovers watching the music performance at Bataclan concert hall in Paris Friday night said three men, who came in through the front door, shouted “This is for Syria, This is for Iraq,” as they started shooting at everyone gathered there.
Another, who survived the attack (watch the video clip; warning – some viewers may find the footage disturbing) , heard the trio say it was all because of French President Francois Hollande’s mistake of intervening in Syria.
Paul, one of hundreds who had gathered at the hall, told The Local: “We were in the main concert hall and had just finished watching the support band. We heard this noise behind us, but no one really thought much of it, at first. We never thought for one moment it was a terror attack.
“They came in through the front door and just began shooting at the crowd, shooting at everyone like crazy. I heard them shout something like, ‘This is for Syria’ and ‘This is for Iraq’. There were three of them. They were shouting at people not to move and if they did, they just shot them.”
More than 100 music lovers were shot dead in the apparent terror attack.
Paul said: “There were people lying on the floor. There was blood everywhere. A man next to me was shot and he fell to floor. The friend I was with got some kind of shrapnel wound in her hip.
“I was watching what was happening and just thought ‘I’m going to die’. The three gunmen then went up on to the balcony above the main hall and at that point we just thought, we have to move now. We ran out and I just remember seeing the police outside.
“I got outside and I was just happy to be out. I don’t remember what I saw, just lots of injured people. We got the Metro away from the area, but police advised us to go back to the Bataclan because we might have had some useful information.
“We are in shock. Total shock.”
A reporter for France’s Europe 1 radio station, Julien Pierce, who was also inside the hall, described to CNN how the gunmen, one of them in his early or mid-20s wearing black clothes and wielding AK-47s, indulged in the “blood bath”.
“People yelled, screamed and everybody was lying on the floor. It lasted for 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 horrific minutes where everybody was on the floor covering their head (s).
“We heard so many gunshots and the terrorists were very calm, silent, and determined as they reloaded their weapons three or four times.”
Asked what language they were speaking, he said: “They said nothing. They just went on shooting at people …. it was horrible.”
However, another witness said the gunmen were shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is great).
Pierce said he was lucky to be standing near the stage. He climbed on to it carrying an injured girl and found an exit. He then asked a taxi driver to take her to hospital.
Another witness, Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter, was sitting in the balcony with his sister and friends, when they heard shots from below about one hour into the show. They ran into the nearby toilets where they remained until the police arrived.
Janaszak said: “At first we thought it was part of the show but we quickly understood. They were three I think and they were just firing into the crowd.
“They were armed with big guns, I imagine kalashnikovs, it was a hell of a noise. They didn’t stop firing.
“There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere. We heard screaming. Everyone was trying to flee.
“They had 20 hostages, and we could hear them talking with them. I clearly heard them (the shooters) say ‘It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria’. They also spoke about Iraq.”
A very shaken woman told FRANCE 24’s Chris Moore that she was standing near the front door when two of the attackers came in and started spraying bullets into the crowd.
Another survivor, a member of staff at the Bataclan, said he was able to save 10 people including himself by escorting them down a passage to a balcony.
He said the assailants were heavily armed and as people panicked, one assailant stood outside an emergency exit and began shooting those seeking to get out, and firing back into the concert hall itself.