Paris in shock after terror attacks

14th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

Legendary for its beauty and bustling streets, Paris was in shock and mourning on Saturday after 128 people were killed in the worst terrorist attack in France's history.

The day after the bloodbath, the city's major attractions were shuttered from Disneyland in the east and the Eiffel Tower in the centre to the Chateau of Versailles in the west, and its picturesque squares and avenues were eerily quiet.

Schools, markets, museums and other tourist sites across the greater Paris area were closed and sporting fixtures were cancelled on the orders of the city or national authorities.

"All city facilities are closed today," Paris City Hall said on its website (http://www.paris.fr/actualites/fermeture-de-tous-les-equipements-parisiens-3082).

The list comprised schools, museums, libraries, sports halls, swimming pools, tennis courts, food markets and district town halls.

Only civil registration offices, to record marriages, will be open, it said, adding that security would be beefed up at town halls.

A line of people at least 100 metres (yards) long formed outside the city's main blood donation centre to offer their blood, even though no appeal had been made.

Outside a Cambodian restaurant where 12 people were killed, mourners placed flowers, a candle and the French national flag, which had written on it "Fluctuat nec mergitur" -- the Latin slogan of Paris, which means "It is buffeted by the waves, yet remains afloat."

The closures came after simultaneous attacks on a concert hall, restaurants and the Stade de France stadium that left at least 128 dead and 180 injured, 80 of them seriously, according to a toll from police sources.

It was the second terrorist strike in less than 10 months. In January, 17 people were killed in jihadist gun attacks, five of the cartoonists at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In the Place de la Bourse, a large square near the Paris Opera, traffic was unusually thin and pedestrians were few.

"People are worried," Jean-Louis Masson, 50, who lives locally, told an AFP reporter.

"You can see that in the SMS messages that are going around. We were concerned for one of our children who was out last night, and we called to make sure she came home."

Masson's son, Adrien, 13, said he was a "bit worried. You get to be afraid that something could happen."

Police said all public demonstrations in the Paris region would be banned until Thursday.

At newspaper kiosks, dramatic headlines and pictures likened Paris to a combat zone, after suspected jihadists attacked crowds and restaurants goers.

"War in the heart of Paris," the conservative daily Le Figaro said. "This time, it's war," Le Parisien said.

Separately, the French secretary of state for sports issued instructions to sports federations to cancel matches this weekend.

Cancelled events include a European Champions Cup rugby match between Racing 92 and the Glasgow Warriors.

- Tourist sites closed -

The Eiffel Tower was closed according to a message on its website that did not say how long it would remain shuttered.

Disneyland Paris, which is located on the eastern rim of the Paris region, said it would not open on Saturday "in light of the recent tragic events in France and in support of our community and the victims of these horrendous attacks."

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by these horrible events," it said.

The Paris Opera cancelled its concerts for Saturday, and the city's philharmonic orchestra said its venue would close all weekend.

Irish rock band U2 also called off a Paris concert planned for Saturday.

The Chateau of Versailles, the Louvre and other Paris museums opened early Saturday but then closed.

Paris' Bateaux-Mouches tourist boats, which provide excursions on the Seine, said it would maintain its schedule.

"We will have added security -- searches and no large luggage allowed onboard, and we will have more security guards onboard," a switchboard operator said.


© 2015 AFP

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