France has closed its borders and is under a state of emergency after a series of attacks left upwards of 120 people dead Friday in Paris.
Suzan Yucel, a Dutch journalist visiting Paris, and Agathe Moreaux, a Parisian student had planned to go to the restaurant Le Petit Cambodge Friday evening before a gunmen opened fire in the cafe killing several people. They were across the street at a bar waiting for a table to open for them when the violence started.
“We were having our beers outside and all of a sudden there were like fireworks or maybe a shooting so we all started running. We just ran to the other side of the street. Then the shooting stopped for a while and then it started again so we just continued running,” she said. “We didn’t know what was happening. Everyone was running and people were throwing their drinks away. Just running.”
Moreaux described the moment the shots rang out, saying they “sounded like fireworks.”
“I just saw people running and in this situation you don’t think too much, you just run too. Maybe it was nothing but you just run too.”
Moreaux and Yucel ran through the Place de la République, a large Parisian square near where the shooting took place. Moreaux said the confusion of the moment left her and her friend feeling lost and helpless.
“It’s very much confusing,” she said. “Place de la République, is one of the biggest places in Paris and then there are a lot of police cars going in different directions. Everyone running. We felt totally lost and we didn’t know what to do. It is very strange. I feel very scared.”
Moreaux, a Parisian, said that since the massacre at Charlie Hebdo it has been a different Paris than the one she once knew.
“At first we didn’t know if it was fireworks or shooting,” she said. “But then we just know.”
“Maybe this is the perfect illustration of the atmosphere here. The first thing one thinks is that it is a shooting and not fireworks.”
“Now we hear it was a shooting and that people are dead. Maybe it would have been us.”