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SECURITY

Dozens hurt after fake shooting rumours sparked stampede in Cannes

Dozens of people were treated in hospital for minor injuries overnight after false rumours of a shooting unleashed panic on the main promenade of the French Riviera town of Cannes, officials and rescuers said on Tuesday.

Dozens hurt after fake shooting rumours sparked stampede in Cannes
The Croisette in Cannes. Illustration photo: AFP

The emergency services counted 44 injured at 4am, some brought to hospital by ambulance and others who made their own way there.

All the injuries were minor, mainly to the lower leg, a rescuer said, as holiday-makers and diners ran into one another in a frenzied scramble to escape a threat that never existed.

Almost 100 emergency service personnel were deployed to the Croisette promenade to deal with the aftermath of the mass panic that hit the glitzy resort town best known for hosting the Cannes Film Festival.

Amateur videos of the crush posted online show people ducking under dining tables and running fearfully in all directions on the seafront promenade, lined with luxury boutiques, which annually rolls out the red carpet for the world's movie stars.

“There were no gunshots in Cannes,” mayor David Lisnard tweeted around midnight, but rather an outbreak of “collective panic after an individual shouted 'gunshot'.”

He added later that the panicked reaction “says a lot about the level of tension in our society.”

 

The local authority of the Alpes-Maritime region that includes Cannes and Nice tweeted in the early hours there had been “no shooting nor gunfire. It is a panic. DON'T SPREAD FALSE RUMOURS!”.

France has been the target of several terror attacks since 2015, including a man ramming a truck into a crowd in Nice on the July 14th national holiday in 2016, killing 86 people.

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TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

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