Last Friday, LUU French Society found themselves caught in the middle of the largest terrorist attack in Europe since 2004.
Around fifty University of Leeds students were in the French capital last weekend, when five co-ordinated terror attacks left 132 people dead, and hundreds more injured.
Speaking to The Gryphon, a Leeds French student said, “We were all scared and all we could do was wait. It was horrible watching the news and the death toll rise, knowing how close we were to it all. What happened was truly awful.”
The Leeds students were outside a bar when they heard the news of the terror attacks which began at around 21:16 on Friday, with many of them having missed calls from loved ones.
They soon realised the scale of the event, and attempted to get to safety by heading back to their hostel, but before long they noticed that “the streets were empty, and all the sirens seemed to be heading in the same direction as us.”
The group’s hostel was situated in the same area as the Bataclan Theatre, where the deadliest attack took place during a sold out Eagles of Death Metal concert.
The event was stormed by three assailants wielding Kalashnikov rifles, resulting in a hostage situation and 89 fatalities.
Two of the assailants later detonated the explosive devices attached to their bodies when police stormed the building.
When the society realised they would not be able to get back to their hostel, they took refuge in a nearby Japanese restaurant, where they would later find out the full extent of the attacks unfolding around them through President Hollande’s broadcast.
The group stayed in the restaurant overnight in safety, with the shutters pulled down for extra protection. It was not until the next morning that they were able to safely return to the hostel.
In order to reassure friends and loved ones, the society posted on their Facebook page to declare they were “safe and away from any danger. It’s been a bit crazy and everyone’s feeling the effects”.
The trip has since arrived safely back in Leeds, and the University has been in contact with year abroad students in France, reporting they are all safe.
The University of Leeds held a minute’s silence outside the Union building on Tuesday of this week at 11am, to remember the 43 victims and families of the Beirut terror attacks that occured on the 12th November, alongside the victims of the Paris attacks.