An unprecedented slaughter in Paris, struck by six different attacks on the heart of France. The day after the horror, flow images, still very vivid and terrible, of a panic experienced personally. The testimonies of those who survived overlap with the last words of those who found death. “They fired at us as if we were birds”, “There was blood everywhere, they shot people even in their backs”. Testimonies from the places of terror are frightening. Jerome Boucher, one of those who were in the local, said, still under shock: “Before leaving, we had to walk in the middle of corpses, it was horrible”.
“I feel lucky – tells Elizabeth Friello, an Italian “transplanted” in Paris for years now, to In Terris -. The day of the massacre she was in a restaurant as well, not far from those affected by the fury of ISIS. “I went out. I looked at a family sitting two tables away and observed how the mother taught her cute pink doll to roll the long threads of pasta which flickered as shrimps; and I was thinking about my son (and his unbridled passion for pasta), who is spending the week with his dad. I imagined him sitting in an absurd position on the sofa, virtually encouraging the French national team playing on TV and formulating his own version of comments, being unable to attend the game personally. Then I heard a voice: ‘There was a shootout’, in a restaurant a few steps away from where I am now!”
“My hands grasp awkwardly the phone – my God, my battery is almost drain! – and at least three different people echo my words. Someone tries not to give in to panic and continues the conversation, someone else has already sent 3 messages, one of which to make sure that my son is fine – ‘what? shootouts? I didn’t know it! I can’t turn on the news because the child is still watching the game –, other people are formulating endless escape routes”.
“All our senses are alert, treacherous anxiety begins to shine on the faces of the customers, enlightened by the screens of dozens of hyperactive smartphones that announce tragedies – very close – and leave breathless, making fear increasingly difficult to hide”.
“Eli, terrorists move in a car, with a Kalashnikov, they’ve taken hostages at the Bataclan and police special forces are attacking to liberate them. This is a serious situation, please, come back home immediately. Go underground and come back as soon as you can. Write my number on a piece of paper, so you call me from another phone. Hurry”. Hurry. Serious. Hostages.
I still feel lucky, friends and family write me from Italy, India, Canada, the United States and as if by magic, all the inhabitants of the world draw a question mark load with apprehension, anger, and anxiety while only 700 meters away from me there are flying bullets, bursting human bombs, floundering bodies and the blood of dozens of innocent people. While death circulates, not giving a damn about slander and mocking the cowardice that defines them, on a Friday night. I might have been there, it Bataclan – concludes Elizabeth – celebrating my birthday with friends. And my son might have been at the stadium cheering the goal of his pet team, one Friday as many others”.
The number of the victims of the Paris attacks, unfortunately are still growing, some of them do not have a name yet. But as hours are passing and show those lives broken by suicide bombers, mostly young killers, young as many of their victims. There is the waiter of one of the two bars near the targeted Stade de France. “He had just given me a sandwich. I was in front of the terrorist who had just blown himself up and the waiter was swept away by the explosion”, says the coordinator of a hostess agency of the stadium, who survived the attack. “His body was lying in front of the entrance door and the police did not allow us to walk out”.
There is also the young lawyer, Valentin Ribet, mentioned on Twitter by the London School of Economics where he had graduated in 2014 before finding a job in Paris. In the picture published by the media he seems happy. “Awful news”, recites the message of the famous British university. “Our hearts are full of sadness . Also two Tunisian sisters, Halima (34) and Houda (35) Saadi have lost their lives. They were from Menzel Bourguiba, in governorate de Bizerte, in a country already tragically struck by jihadist terrorism, they had come to Paris to celebrate a friend’s birthday, according to the site of the Tunisian radio Mosaique Fm. One of their brother seems to have survived the carnage instead.
There are dozens of faces and life stories in the appeals launched on Twitter, with the hashtag #RechercheParis, by those who have not got any news about friends and family since yesterday night, dispersed mainly in the massacre at the theater. “Retweet to find Mathias and Marie”, one can read below the picture of a young couple which is kissing and smiling. Shortly after, under the same picture, this time black and white, another user: “Search has finished, I have no more words, only tears. Mathias and Marie have left us”.
Eva, student in a roman high school, ‘Virgil’, who moved to the France capital for a year, says about the hours of the terrorist attacks of which she was a witness. A dense and unadorned post on Facebook, as only the account of those who lived things personally can be: “Having lived personally such an experience – the debut – changes your life”. Or, in the case of those who were less lucky, it takes it away.