Young, happy lives cut short: The story of Paris carnage victims

  • Paris, AFP
  • Updated: Nov 16, 2015 01:31 IST
People gather in front of a memorial along a police cordon set-up close to the Bataclan concert hall. (AFP)

The carnage of the Paris attacks that killed 129 people on Friday night cut down journalists, lawyers, students, parents of small children -- people from all walks of life from more than a dozen countries around the world.

Authorities say they have identified more than 100 of the victims who have fallen prey to jihadist gunmen in the French capital and poignant details are emerging of lives cut off in their prime.

Aurelie de Peretti had come to Paris for a few days’ holiday with a friend -- a reward to herself after a tough season working restaurants in the south of France.

But the 33-year-old’s treat came to a bloody, tragic end in the slaughter at the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people were killed as they watched a gig by the Eagles of Death Metal group.

Read| Worse than war: Paris doctor recalls night of attacks

Her father Jean-Marie de Peretti, a journalist with the Nice Matin group of newspapers, spoke of his sadness at the “tragic, unjust” loss of his “shining girl”.

She was “spending a few days in Paris on holiday after a difficult season working in restaurants on the beaches this summer. It was her little reward,” he said.

He said Aurelie, a graphic designer, was a big music-lover who played guitar and piano.

“She’d been talking to us about this concert and this trip for months and months. Now we will never see her again,” he said.

Her sister Delphyne told Le Parisien newspaper she felt as if “someone has just amputated part of me”.

After hours of desperately, fruitlessly searching for news of Aurelie, her parents travelled from Saint Tropez on the French Riviera to Paris, where on Saturday afternoon they learned the terrible news and were given trauma counselling.

“They listened to us, told us how to break the news to our family. My 88-year-old mother-in-law adored her granddaughter -- how are we supposed to tell her?” he said.

Read| ‘War on our hands’: Indians in Paris recount a night of terror

French police officers take position on Place de la Republique (Republic Square) after an alleged false alert sparked mass panic among a crowd on Sunday. (AP)

‘Everyone’s best friend’

Also among the Bataclan dead was Guillaume Decherf, a heavy metal journalist for top French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles -- and a father of two little girls.

The magazine said the 43-year-old had been working for them since 2008 and was due to cover a Motorhead gig in Paris next Sunday. Only last month Decherf had reviewed the Eagles of Death Metal’s latest album.

“The whole editorial team is stunned by his death. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones,” the magazine said on its website.

In the northern French city of Amiens, the hockey club held a minute’s silence on Saturday for one of its members, 34-year-old Thomas Ayad, who worked for Mercury Records.

The Amiens Sports Club said they were “united in the pain of Thomas’s loved ones and the other victims” on their Facebook page, while a former schoolmate said he was “one of the most tolerant people... brilliant and extremely kind”.

Reflecting the cosmopolitan nature of Paris, the victims included at least 25 foreigners from more than a dozen countries spread over three continents.

Read|Paris: It was an attack on Western way of life, values

The family of Briton Nick Alexander, 36, who sold merchandise for the Eagles of Death Metal, paid tribute to him as “everyone’s best friend -- generous, funny and fiercely loyal”, in a statement.

Helen Wilson told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper she was with him at the concert when he died: “...he couldn’t breathe any more and I held him in my arms and told him I loved him.”

Polina Buckley, a woman living in New York, tweeted several photos of her and Alexander, whom she said was her boyfriend.

“You are and always will be the love of my life, Nick Alexander,” she tweeted.

The first American confirmed killed was California State University student Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, who died in the shootout at the Petit Cambodge restaurant in the 10th district.

Her mother Beatrice Gonzalez told US television Nohemi was “a very strong young woman”.

And her boyfriend, Tim Mraz, posted a picture of them embracing on Instagram, saying he had lost “the most important person in my life”, calling her “a bright soul and the sweetest girl”.

Pope Francis leads the Sunday Angelus prayer at the Vatican, saying he was "shaken" by the "inhuman" attacks in Paris. (AFP)

Full coverage: Paris under attack

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