Publicado: 13/11/2020

Wounds still raw as France remembers 2015 Paris attacks

Wounds still raw as France remembers 2015 Paris attacks

Paris (AFP) -

France on Friday marked five years since a squad of jihadist attackers went on a killing rampage in Paris in its worst peacetime atrocity, with the psychological wounds still raw, especially after a string of new attacks.

The night of carnage on November 13, 2015 saw 130 people killed and 350 wounded when Islamist suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Stade de France stadium, bars and restaurants in central Paris and the Bataclan concert hall.

Prime Minister Jean Castex and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo attended small memorial ceremonies, scaled down due to the coronavirus pandemic, outside the sites of the attacks in Paris such as the Stade de France, the bar Le Carillon and the restaurant Le Petit Cambodge.

'Today, five years on, Paris remembers,' tweeted Hidalgo, using as a hashtag the Latin-language nautical motto of Paris -- Fluctuat Nec Mergitur (She is Rocked but does not Sink).

- 'It comes back' -

The sheer horror of the attacks, which were claimed by extremists from the Islamic State group, left scars that have still not healed while the security threat to France has not diminished.

'Five years later, the most difficult thing is still the date of November 13 and all that surrounds it,' said David Fritz Goeppinger, who survived the Bataclan massacre and wrote a book 'A Day in Our Lives' to help overcome the experience.

'It's really hard for me to say 'today, I'm better or today, that's it... Post-traumatic stress is not forgotten,' he told AFP.

Frenchwoman Catherine Bertrand, who also survived the Bataclan and wrote a comic book 'Chronicles of a Survivor' said the post-traumatic stress has lessened over time but can still return.

'As soon as it's a question of going out, of using transport, it comes back,' she said.

The fifth anniversary of the November 2015 strikes come with France still reeling from three attacks in the last weeks: a knife attack outside the former offices of the Charlie Hebdo weekly, the beheading of a teacher and a deadly stabbing spree at a Nice church.

This has reopened an impassioned and sometimes painful debate over France's approach towards its Muslim minority, with President Emmanuel Macron calling for a crackdown on domestic radicalism.

- Trials and new attacks -

Social tensions remain high and there has been an increasing trend of attacks carried out by individuals unknown to the intelligence services who are inspired by jihadist propaganda and use cold weapons with little preparation.

In January 2015, Islamist gunmen massacred staff at the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, claiming they were avenging its publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

True to its defiant reputation, the magazine republished the cartoons to mark the start in September of the trial of suspected accomplices in the killings.

In the wake of that move, a Pakistan-born man wounded two people with a meat cleaver on September 25 outside Charlie Hebdo's former offices.

Teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown his class the cartoons, was beheaded outside his school on October 16 by an Islamist radical from Chechnya. And on October 29 a man recently arrived from Tunisia killed three people with a knife in a Nice church.

The trial into the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo killings is ongoing while early 2021 will see the opening of the trial into the November 2015 Paris attacks.

That trial will see just one of the suspected perpetrators in the dock -- French-Belgian Salah Abdeslam. All of the other attackers detonated their explosive vests or were killed by police except Abdeslam, who was arrested in Belgium four months later.

Nineteen other suspects accused of providing various logistical support will be on trial with him, though five are presumed dead in Iraq or Syria and will be tried in absentia.

The suspected coordinator of the attacks -- Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud who shot indiscriminately at packed cafe terraces that night -- was killed five days later in a police assault on the Paris suburb of Saint Denis.

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