PARIS: A French radio reporter who was inside the Bataclan theatre that came under attack gave a harrowing account of the “10 horrific minutes” when black-clothed gunmen wielding AK-47s entered and fired calmly and randomly at hundreds of screaming concertgoers.
“It was a bloodbath,” Julien Pearce, a reporter for France’s Europe 1 radio station, told CNN.
“People yelled, screamed and everybody lying on the floor, and 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, very determined and they reloaded three or four times their weapons and they didn’t shout anything. They didn’t say anything.”
Pearce recounted seeing 20 to 25 bodies on the floor and others very badly injured.
Police sources later said at least 100 people were killed at the attack on the concert venue.
Another witness said the gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) as they fired into the terrified crowd who had gathered to watch a concert by the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan theatre in eastern Paris.
Pearce said he was lucky to be near the stage as the gunmen, wearing black clothes and wielding AK-47s, opened fire.
“People started to try to escape, to walk on people on the floor and try to find the exits, and I found an exit when the terrorists reloaded their guns in the meantime, and I climbed on the stage and we found an exit.”
The journalist said he took a teenage girl who was bleeding heavily and carried her to a taxi where he told the driver to take her to hospital.
Later in the night police stormed the venue. Three suspected assailants were shot dead during the assault.
Pearce said he saw the face of one of the gunmen, who was probably 20 to 25 years old.
“What happened was terrible. I mean, honestly, 15 minutes, 10 minutes of gunshots firing randomly in a small concert room. I mean, it’s not a huge concert room. It’s a small one. Two thousand people were there maximum and it was — it was horrible.”
Another witness, Pierre Janaszak, a radio presenter, was sitting in the balconies with his sister and friends, when they heard shots from below about one hour into the show.
“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,” said Janaszak, who was hiding with several others in the toilet.
“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’. They also spoke about Iraq.”