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Survivors return as Sting reopens Bataclan

November 13, 2016

Scores of traumatized survivors have revisited the reopened Bataclan concert hall in Paris one year after terrorists killed 90 at a rock concert. British singer Sting told the crowd that "nothing comes from violence."

Sting concert at the Bataclan
Image: Getty Images/AFP

British singer Sting led a minute's silence at Saturday's concert for the 130 people killed in coordinated attacks across Paris on November 13, 2015, in a renovated Bataclan concert hall smelling of fresh paint.

His first song, "Fragile," saw many guests weep, but Sting soon brought the crowd to its feet, clapping and stamping to his hit "Message in a Bottle."

"Nothing comes from violence and nothing will," said Sting, referring to last year's attacks claimed by the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) group.

Guests who were able to get tickets underwent extensive body searches and had to pass barricades to reach the packed hall.

Some survivors stayed outside the Bataclan in a quiet vigil. Others such as Aurelien, who only gave his first name, went inside, saying he was determined to have a good night.

"There's an obligation to be here, because there are 90 people who can't come anymore," he told the Agence France-Presse, referring to those killed at the concert hall.

"I'm drinking my beer and I'm hoping to have a good time," he added, saying that he kept "getting flashbacks of that night."

Georges Salines, who lost his 28-year-old daughter Lola at the Bataclan, said the concert was "almost a taking back of the space for music and fun from the forces of death."

Another survivor, Mariesha Jack Payne, said she traveled from Scotland to Paris' Barometer bar, where she had sheltered during the attack.

"Even if I'm not inside [the Bataclan], it's symbolic for me to be here nearby," she said.

People gather around flowers and candles laid next to the Bataclan concert hall
Some survivors chose to pay tribute to victims outside the concert hallImage: Getty Images/AFP/P. Lopez

Proceeds will go to survivors

Sting, 65, who played at the Bataclan back in 1979 as the lead singer of The Police, said the proceeds from Saturday's concert would go to two charities helping survivors.

More than 1,700 people have been officially recognized as victims of the horror that unfolded at the Bataclan, cafés and France's national stadium. Nine survivors remain hospitalized, while others were paralyzed or suffered life-changing injuries.

The Bataclan will remain closed on Sunday's anniversary of the attacks, when President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo are scheduled to unveil plaques at the half-dozen sites where revelers were murdered.

'Threat remains'

In remarks to several European newspapers on Saturday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that the "heavy and constant threat" of more terror attacks hung over France. "Yes, terrorism will strike us again," he said, but stressed that "we have all the resources to resist and all the strength to win."

Concerts at the Bataclan resume next Wednesday with performances by British singer Pete Doherty, Senegalese star Youssou N'Dour and British singer Marianne Faithfull.

ipj/cmk (AFP, dpa, AP)