However, for the second time in less than a year, France as well as the world are asking how carnage could strike in the heart of this much-beloved city, including at a concert hall barely several hundred steps from January’s fatal assault on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
“As we went to our car we saw tons of people running out of the Bataclan,” local resident Caterina Giardino, an Italian national, said of the 19th century theater-turned-music venue where gunman clad in black methodically killed nearly 100.
“Many of them were covered with blood, people were yelling,” she added, sitting on a seat with a pal as she recalled how one young man appeared in the concert hall with all the bloody imprint of a hand on his top.
The exact sequence of gun and bomb assaults on a sports stadium, the concert hall and restaurants in the French capital that made at least 120 dead is still uncertain.
About two minutes afterwards, watchers distinctly heard another detonation.
No claim of duty continues to be made so far, but witnesses in the Bataclan music venue heard the killers shout Islamic slogans and condemn France’s role in the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria.
Inside the hall, California-based rock band Eagles of Death Metal were on stage marketing their fourth album when the crowd started to see something wasn’t correct.
“I turned round and I saw one of the attackers, he was quite young, just 20, with a small beard,” Julien Pearce, a reporter for Europe 1 radio who had been in the theatre said.
“At first we believed it was part of the show, pyrotechnics or whatever. But when I turned round and saw him with his assault rifle and saw flames coming from his barrel, I realized it absolutely was no joke,” he added.
As the gunman stopped to reload, out through an exit and Pearce managed to sneak round the side of the stage. But witnesses described how others were not so fortunate.
“People were falling like dominoes,” said a 22-year old message-runner who gave his name as Toon. He had walked through the doors of the theatre as three gunmen began firing indiscriminately at those inside.