News World Paris attack: victims slowly being identified

Paris attack: victims slowly being identified

Some of the reported victims from the tragic attacks.
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UK man Nick Alexander was working at the Bataclan theatre in Paris selling merchandise when gunmen began firing into the audience.

Mr Alexander’s former girlfriend, Helen Wilson, told The Guardian that she was at the Bataclan with Mr Alexander. She said when the attackers started shooting, they both dropped to the ground.

Ms Wilson was injured in both legs and Mr Alexander, 36, was shot right in front of her.

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“His back was to me and I couldn’t see what happened and I tried to keep him talking and then I tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and they [the gunmen] were just sort of in the shadows and they would shoot if anyone said anything,” she said.

Nick Alexander was working at the Eagles of Death Metal when he was shot dead.
Nick Alexander was working at the Eagles of Death Metal when he was shot dead. Photo: Twitter

“Then he couldn’t breathe any more and I held him in my arms and told him I loved him. He was the love of my life.”

Three days after the worst violence seen in France since World War II, her story is like many others – a combination of tragedy and miracle escape.

As the death toll from the terrorist strikes in Paris reaches 129, the names of the dead are slowly being revealed. And tragically, it is giving the attacks a face – that of the victims.

But the killers are also being discovered, the first of whom was identified as Ismail Omar Mostefai, already known to police as a petty criminal. He was identified by a severed finger found among the rubble of the Bataclan concert hall, after each of the attackers detonated suicide belts when police stormed in.

Mostefai had been known to intelligence services as a “radicalised” person with extremist links since 2010. He is believed to have spent time in Syria between 2013 and 2014, reported Le Monde. His brother and father were being held for questioning on Sunday.

The Belgian-national who hired the vehicle used in the Bataclan attacks, a Volkswagen Polo, was arrested on the French-Belgian border with two others.

After a car with Belgian number plates was identified in the attacks, Belgian police issued an international arrest warrant for Salah Abdeslam, whose two brothers are believed to have been among Friday night’s assailants. Abdeslam is described at 26-years old, 170cm tall, a resident of Brussels and “dangerous”.

French media reported another car used by attackers, a black Seat, was discovered in the eastern suburb of Montreiul in Paris with three kalashnikovs (automatic rifles) inside.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the attacks strengthened the need to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis and said the terrorists acting in the name of God were “utterly godless”.

A nation in mourning.
A nation in mourning. Photo: Getty

“These terrorists commit a double crime. They are murderers. They are mass murderers,” he said.

Australian victim

Among the injured was one Australian, 19-year-old Emma Parkinson from Hobart.

Ms Parkinson’s family said she was shot at the Bataclan theatre where she was attending an Eagles of Death Metal concert. By Sunday night (AEST) her condition had been elevated to stable, post-surgery.

“We are confident Emma will make a full recovery physically. Obviously there is quite a long road ahead for Emma mentally,” Ms Parkinson’s aunt Sam Gunner said.

While Emma was in good spirits, “nothing will equal how good she will feel when her mum arrives in a day or so”, said Ms Gunner.

Meanwhile, Melbourne woman Sophie Doran, 30, was also at the concert when attackers opened fire with semi-automatic weapons.

Ms Doran’s father, Michael, said that she told him she and her friend hid under the backs of the chairs and pretended to be dead for about 30 minutes until police arrived.

Behind the death toll

Relatives and friends have been using the social media hashtags #rechercheParis and #rechercheBataclato to circulate the names and photos of those still missing.

The rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall was the scene of the highest death toll, with 89 people reportedly killed at that location.

On Sunday morning, the London School of Economics posted on Twitter confirming the death of Frenchman Valentin Ribet.

French music journalist, Guillaume Decherf, 43, also died at the Bataclan theatre.

According to Twitter, he wrote for Les Inrocks magazine, who confirmed his death. They said Mr Decherf had written about the Eagles of Death Metal for the October 28 issue and announced the November 13 concert.

A technician from France 24 news channel, Mathieu Hoche, 38, died in the Bataclan attack, his colleagues confirming his death on Twitter.

Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, from Long Beach, California, was eating at a Paris restaurant when the gunmen opened fire. She was studying in Paris as part of an international exchange program, the LA Times reported.

‘Bad dream’ a reality

Just hours after the series of attacks left at least 129 people dead, Parisians felt they had “woken up from a bad dream”.

“It’s like when you have a bad night, you wake up and you think it’s a bad dream when in fact it’s a reality. I wasn’t so far from there and I heard all the policemen,” Brigitte Roux said.

Mourners leave candles in front of the Petit Cambodge restaurant near Le Carillon restaurant where attacks took place.
Mourners leave candles in front of the Petit Cambodge restaurant near Le Carillon restaurant where attacks took place. Photo: Getty

“I feel very sorry for the families. In Paris I hope life will begin again normally. It’s really bizarre. I think if people want to do sad things they can do it, it’s difficult to stop them.”

Ludovic Lebon said: “It’s so hard for everyone I think. There is just blood and shoes over there. It was next to my home when I saw all the things. Just terrible and I don’t know what to say.”

“It’s great that people are concerned and they came here today. We have to be a unit. The message Paris is sending is ‘be strong’ for each other and it’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay,” Mr Lebon said.

“Maybe you can hear the mood of Paris in my voice. We are so sad.”

Imene Ahmed said she was in a cafe with her mum when they heard gun shots.

“We were going to have a drink and then people were running everywhere and I said, ‘mum, it’s a shooting’. ‘No, no, no,’ she said. And I said, ‘yes mum, it’s a shooting’,” Ms Ahmed said.

“We hid under a table. I stayed at the cafe until 5:30am. We were just helping the people, coffee, alcohol, phone to call their family whatever they needed.

“I think maybe this is just a bad dream but I actually know this is now the reality but we need to stay positive. Even though I know this is going to happen again, I’m pretty sure of that.”

with ABC and AAP


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