Paris supermarket siege eyewitness: “It was like the end of the world”

Eric Ellena, at the site of the kosher supermarket siege, pays his respect to the dead. (photo by Ian Ayres)

Eric Ellena, at the site of the kosher supermarket siege, pays respect to the dead. (photo by Ian Ayres)

Paris supermarket siege eyewitness: ‘It was like the end of the world’

Trapped in his flat inside the police cordon, eyewitness Ian Ayres watched the deadly end to the Paris supermarket siege

8:54AM GMT 11 Jan 2015

A resident of the Jewish quarter of Le Marais, in Paris‘ fourth arrondissement for over 20 years, Ian Ayres felt lucky that he had not been in his former home of New York City when terrorists struck on 9/11.

France seemed like a much safer place so when, on Friday January 9, he found himself forced to stay inside his flat by police who were dealing with a siege at the nearby Hyper Cacher, kosher supermarket, he was surprised and scared.

“The police cars were blocking off all the streets and then I saw the Swat teams come by” he said.

Mr Ayres opened his window to get a better look down the street and was immediately ordered to close it and stay inside by police.

Watching the scene unfold on television, he could hear the gunshots and explosions outside echoed in the news footage onscreen.

Left shaken by how close terrorism had come to his home Mr Ayres said of the crime scene after its deadly resolution, “was like the end of the world”.

Paris must not be divided by terrorist attacks

10:27AM GMT 11 Jan 2015

Paris must not be divided by terrorist attacks

As people gather at the site of the kosher supermarket siege, citizens of Paris explain why they believe the city, and the country, should not become divided by the terrorist acts of the past days.

Outside the police cordon around the Hyper Cacher supermarket, people gathered to lay flowers, light candles and post messages of support and solidarity.

“Most of us here are Jewish but there are also Muslims and Catholics,” explained 25-year-old Gad Zerbib. His mother had shopped at the supermarket days before the siege in which hostage taker Amedi Coulibaly and four hostages were killed on Friday, but was not there on the day of the attack.

Among the crowd there were discussions, some heated, about the reasons behind the attack on the supermarket and the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, two days earlier.

Even among those who disagreed about the motivation of the attackers there was a strong message that Paris must not allow recent events to divide the city.

Anne-Sophie Arnaud, a Parisian who travelled across the city to visit the site explained that, for her, it did’t matter why the events of recent days had happened but only that in response the people of Paris stand together to deny the terrorists their victory.

"John Lennon for Peace and Love" © Yoko Ono

“Imagine” — John Lennon @ Marche Républicaine Paris du 11 Janvier 2015

“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too…” ~ John Lennon

Millions gathered at the Paris unity march singing, cheering and clapping to John Lennon’s “Imagine” — a song that rings particularly powerful after the days of violence and unrest in France.

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