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Ceremonies planned as France marks first anniversary of Paris attacks

Islamic State gunmen killed 130 people in a series of attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015

world Updated: Nov 13, 2016 10:09 IST
AFP
People leave the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, November 12, 2016, after rock star Sting performed a special reopening concert one year after the deadly Paris attacks.
People leave the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France, November 12, 2016, after rock star Sting performed a special reopening concert one year after the deadly Paris attacks. (Reuters Photo)

France will on Sunday hold a series of sombre ceremonies to mark a year to the day since gunmen and suicide bombers from the Islamic State group killed 130 people in Paris.

President Francois Hollande will unveil plaques commemorating the victims at six sites targeted on November 13, 2015.

The first will be outside the Stade de France national stadium where three suicide bombers detonated their explosives during an international football match, killing a man and starting the series of devastating attacks.

Hollande and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo will then unveil plaques at bars and restaurants in the trendy neighbourhood where gunmen sprayed bullets at revellers enjoying a Friday evening out.

The final ceremony will take place at the Bataclan, the concert hall where 90 people were killed by three attackers during a rock gig in the culmination of the carnage.

Rock superstar Sting reopened the refurbished Bataclan with a hugely symbolic show on Saturday.

“We will not forget them,” the British singer told the crowd in French after a minute’s silence for the victims. “Tonight we have two tasks to achieve: first to remember those who lost their lives in the attack, and then to celebrate life and music in this historic place.”

Sting began the emotionally charged concert with his song Fragile, singing: “Nothing comes from violence and nothing will.”

Many in the crowd wept during the first song, before the more upbeat Message In a Bottle.

“I’ll send an SOS to the world,” he sang. “Only hope can keep us alive.”

A placard reading " Bataclan. An affectionate thought for you my son, your father who loves you" is hung around a tree near the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. (AFP Photo)

Scores of survivors of the attack attended the sold-out concert. Among them was Aurelien, who had been determined to return to the scene of so much horror.

“It’s the first time I’ve been in a public space for a year. I haven’t been to the cinema, to a concert, I get my shopping delivered -- I’ve always stayed at mine,” said the man in his thirties, who did not want to give his full name.

“Tonight I’m taking my life back like it was before. It’s a duty, there’s an obligation to be here -- because there are 90 people who can’t come anymore,” he added, visibly moved, his hands trembling.

The Bataclan’s co-director said he had prevented two members of the US group Eagles of Death Metal -- who were on stage when the bloodshed started last year -- from entering the Sting concert over controversial remarks by their lead singer Jesse Hughes.