Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Saturday 10 June 2023 Dublin: 18°C
Steve Parsons
# paris under attack
'Don't move or we'll kill you' - Inside the horror of the Bataclan theatre
Concert goers who survived last night’s deadly attack describe the scene.

LOIC WIELS COULD feel the bodies hitting the floor around him at a Paris music hall where a team of assailants opened fire Friday in one of France’s deadliest terror attacks.

The bullets whizzed so close, he was hit by the wood splinters they sent flying. And under his feet he could feel the blood that had poured out of the wounded and the dead.

Wiels is one of four survivors of the assault on the Bataclan concert venue who recounted to how he survived. At least 82 other people there were killed.

Just an hour prior Wiels had felt lucky to be among the crowd at the venue in eastern Paris. He had managed to get a ticket at the last minute for the Eagles of Death Metal concert, which was sold out.

In the packed hall, which can hold up to 1,500 spectators, the rock group had been playing for about 45 minutes when the explosions rang out.

Someone in the audience joked: “It’s firecrackers.”

“I turn around and I see two guys with Kalashnikovs. They were dressed normally: jeans and sneakers. At first I thought they were shooting in the air. Then I saw people falling over,” said Sylvain Raballant, 42.

Everyone that was in the pit, like Wiels and Raballant, hit the floor.

France Paris Attacks AP / Press Association Images The scene outside the Bataclan theatre this afternoon. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

“I saw three attackers, two of them clearly. One looked like a young guy, with a three-day beard. The other was closely shaved, wearing small eye glasses and some kind of yellow beret. He was also wearing what I took for a bullet-proof vest. It was actually an explosive vest,” said Wiels.

Wiels, 33, is now struck by the “incomprehension in the room. I felt the blood on the floor, the shockwaves of the people falling around me. I got hit with woodchips sent flying by the bullets, but in the balcony nobody realised what was happening.”

“They fired into the crowd and people tried to escape but the attackers said: ‘If you move, we’ll kill you,’” said Philippe, 35

‘We’re going to die’ 

He heard the attackers say: “What’s happening to you, is your fault. We are avenging our brothers in Syria.”

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the series of attacks on the French capital, including the one on the Bataclan, that left nearly 130 people dead.

Paris attacks PA Wire / PA Images An unnamed man who played John Lennon's Imagine outside the theatre on a portable piano this afternoon. PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

As the audience gradually understood they were caught in a siege, they tried to make themselves as invisible as possible.

But mobile phones were ringing, quickly followed by shooting. It seemed like every 15 seconds there was another shot.

Raballant saw people getting up and trying to escape and decided to do the same. But a fresh burst of gunfire sent him back to the floor with his “head in his hands, near the sound board.”

“I couldn’t move anymore. I tried not to even breathe. Next to me, there was a drunk guy who kept saying ‘We’re all going to die.’ A couple of us whispered for him to shut up. There were also people who were moaning … it was horrible,” Raballant added.

Anthony, another survivor, said the fact that he was at the back of the room saved his life.

The moving crowd knocked him to the floor.

When he lifted his head, after a moment that lasted “between 30 seconds and 20 minutes…”, he saw “a bearded guy, no mask, a gun in his hand,” who was shooting methodically.

“I was waiting for the fatal shot,” said Anthony.

“And then somebody yelled that they (attackers) were gone, everybody wanted to get out. I slipped in a pool of thick blood. We crawled, we climbed over people.”

When Raballant saw the police he ran toward the bar, his hands on his head so as to not be taken for a shooter.

In the meantime, Wiels and Philippe, seizing the moment when the attackers went upstairs, rushed towards the exits.

“From the balcony they started shooting into the pit. When they backed up to reload I got up and I ran, I ran to the exit and I didn’t stop until the Metro,” said Philippe.

© – AFP 2015

Liveblog: Night of slaughter in Paris that killed 129 carried out by ‘three teams of terrorists’ >

Read: Tears and tricolours as Irish and French stand together in solidarity >

Your Voice
Readers Comments