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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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'They were just firing into the crowd…There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere'

Witnesses describe the “bloodbath” at the Bataclan concert hall.

A FULL HOUSE of 1,500 people were packed into the Bataclan music venue in eastern Paris when black-clad gunmen wielding AK-47s stormed into the building and fired methodically at hundreds of screaming concert-goers.

About an hour after US band Eagles of Death Metal took to the stage, the concert hall was turned into “a bloodbath”, according to a French radio reporter at the scene.

France Paris Shooting A woman is evacuated from the Bataclan theatre targeted in one of several attacks in Paris last night. Source: Thibault Camus/AP/Press Association Images

Fellow radio presenter Pierre Janaszak heard the first shots and thought it was part of the act.

But we quickly understood. They were just firing into the crowd… There was blood everywhere, corpses everywhere.

Hinting at their motives, the gunmen were overheard raging at French President Francois Hollande and his military interventions in the Syrian civil war against the Islamic State group.

“I clearly heard them say: ‘It’s the fault of Hollande; it’s the fault of your president. He should not have intervened in Syria’,” Janaszak added.

As screams rang out and survivors ran over the injured or dead to make their ways to the exits or places to hide, the militants took hostages and then began executing them.

“We heard people screaming – the hostages particularly – and the threats from the kidnappers,” added another survivor, 34-year-old Charles.

Along with around 20 others, he fled to a toilet where he pushed through the ceiling and hid in the crawl space.

France Paris Shooting French President Francois Hollande arrives at the Bataclan last night. Source: Associated Press

Panic

Another man who was at the Bataclan told Sky News that people at the venue had desperately scrambled to find escape routes.

“We heard firecracker noises and we turned around and saw two young people – well we were a bit far away – with machine guns firing into the crowd,” he said.

So we all laid on the ground. There was panic, screams, shots continued to be fired. At the right of the stage, a door opened and we all rushed there.

“It was leading to a staircase. We got stuck in a staircase for five to 10 minutes.

“People were trying to force some doors open but they only led to dressing rooms and green rooms so it didn’t lead to anything.

“Someone managed to open a door that led to the roof. We got up to the rooftop. We waited for a while and there was a man who had an apartment with a window that opened onto a rooftop.

“He opened the window and let us into his apartment. We stayed the whole time at his place.”

Four assailants were killed after police stormed in – three by activating their suicide vests and a fourth shot dead – but not before they had killed at least 82 people.

The string of coordinated attacks in and around Paris last night left more than 120 people dead, in the worst such violence in France’s history.

The assailants struck at least six different venues, ranging from the Stade de France football stadium to a pizzeria.

- additional reporting by Catherine Healy

Live updates: France declares state of emergency after night of terror in Paris 

Read: Irish people in Paris urged to stay indoors and “exercise extreme caution”

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