Firecrackers and fear trigger scenes of panic in Paris

PARIS – Firecrackers and exploding light bulbs and heaters triggered scenes of panic in Paris on Sunday, as rumours of fresh shootings sent people diving for cover and calling for police.

“We were just singing along with a group of young people when everyone started to run, so we ran too,” said a 23-year-old who gave her name only as Laurine.

Along with hundreds of others, she had come to the Place de la Republique in central Paris to lay flowers and candles in memory of the 129 people killed in the neighbourhood in Friday’s attacks.

Another young man said he heard a sound like an explosion and started to run.

But police told AFP the reason for the panic was firecrackers.

A few blocks away there were similar scenes when a heater or a light bulb exploded on a terrace, sowing panic as passers-by warned friends on social media of a new attack.

At one cafe targeted by gunmen on Friday, “Le Carillon”, people shouted and ran.

A few hundred metres (yards) away, a few people jumped into the cold waters of the Ourcq canal, a security agent told AFP.

The mayor of the area, Christophe Girard, who was at Note-Dame cathedral attending a mass in memory of the 129 people who died in the attacks, said he received a text message saying there was “gunfire near the town hall”.

He left the cathedral to “reassure and calm local residents”, he told AFP.


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