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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Eagles Of Death Metal perform in Paris for attack survivors

Published 16/02/2016 | 06:06

Eagles Of Death Metal's Josh Homme waves to fans as he arrives ahead of his concert at the Olympia music hall, in Paris (AP)
Eagles Of Death Metal's Josh Homme waves to fans as he arrives ahead of his concert at the Olympia music hall, in Paris (AP)

California rock band Eagles Of Death Metal have performed at a highly charged Paris concert filled with fans who survived an attack at their last Paris show - and filled with memories of those who did not.

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"Bonsoir Paris, we're ready for this!", frontman Jesse Hughes told the crowd at the Olympia concert hall before heading straight into their first song.

Later, between two songs, he added: "Peace, Love and Rock and Roll!"

The band's performance at the Bataclan concert hall on November 13 turned into a bloodbath when Islamic extremist suicide bombers stormed in, as near-simultaneous attacks hit cafes and a stadium around Paris.

Scores of concert-goers at the Bataclan were killed, while others hid or lay motionless for hours until a police raid ended the siege.

Armed police guarded entrances to the Olympia for Tuesday's performance, and concert-goers went through three bag and body searches before entering.

Viewers seemed in good spirits ahead of the show, some drinking outside, and little nervousness in the crowd.

One survivor, Alexis Lebrun, described himself as "very scared" and said he would go to the Olympia venue but would only attend the concert if he deemed the security adequate.

He and other survivors opened up to a French terrorism commission ahead of the concert, questioning how the French government failed to stop the attacks that claimed 130 lives, most of them at the Bataclan.

The violence came just 10 months after deadly jihadi attacks on a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket pushed the country into high alert, and forced French MPs to look for ways to further protect citizens.

Mr Lebrun questioned why there was scant security around one of Paris' biggest music venues given the heightened alert in the city.

"No security measures were seen. No military or police presence in front of the hall. No particular searches at the hall entrance," Mr Lebrun noted.

"How come the national security alert was at its highest level, yet there were no provisions to mobilise some guards in front of venues welcoming hundreds or thousands of people?"

Speaking to i-Tele television ahead of the concert, Eagles Of Death Metal singer Hughes broke down in tears, saying: "I don't know why God picked us to be the band."

France's parliament has overwhelmingly approved a three-month extension of a state of emergency imposed after the deadly attacks, even as rights groups said it undermines fundamental freedoms.

Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve argued in Tuesday's debate in the National Assembly that the threat of new terrorist violence remains very high after the Islamic extremist attacks.

The state of emergency expands police powers to carry out arrests and searches and allows authorities to restrict movement of persons and vehicles at specific times and places.

The lower house of parliament approved the extension by a vote of 212-31. It had already been approved by the senate and will now remain in effect until May 26.

Press Association

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