France pays tribute to victims of Paris attacks
PARIS: France paid tribute yesterday to the 130 mostly young people killed while they were enjoying themselves in Paris two weeks ago by Islamist gunmen and suicide bombers in the most deadly attacks the nation has seen since World War II.
Blue-white-and-red French flags hung from the windows of public buildings and private homes as hundreds of survivors and relatives of the dead joined political leaders for a remembrance ceremony at the military museum Les Invalides in the capital.
The militant group Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the November 13 attacks, which targeted cafes, restaurants, a sports stadium and a rock concert. More than 350 people were wounded and nearly 100 of them remain in hospital.
Under a wintry sky, the names and ages of the 130 victims were read out. A majority were under 35 and they came from all over France and from 17 other countries.
In a poignant but defiant speech, President Francois Hollande vowed to destroy Islamic State and urged his compatriots to help combat the group simply by continuing to go to bars, restaurants and cultural and sporting events and to enjoy the simple pleasures he said the militants hated.
“I solemnly promise you all that France will do everything to defeat the army of fanatics who have committed these crimes, that she will act tirelessly to protect her children,” he said.
“The terrorists want to divide us, to oppose us, to pit us against one another. They will fail. They have the cult of death, we have the love of life,” he said.
Hollande said the attacks were part of a chain stretching back to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, and he noted that many other countries – including, this month alone, Mali and Tunisia – had been hit by militant groups. – Reuters