A Dungannon woman, who lives close to the centre of Paris, has revealed the palpable fear and paranoia that haunts the city’s streets in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks.
The gun attack on Paris’s satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo which caused 12 fatalities, followed by a fatal shooting in the city on Thursday and Friday’s dramatic hostage situations stunned the world last week.
Lisa Stafford, who is an intern working for HEC Paris, told of how the city had been shaken by the tragic events. She has already made changes to her lifestyle and travel plans because of the atrocity and the security clampdown.
“When I heard about the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo office, I was utterly surprised because Paris is largely safe in the centre,” said Lisa. “I was constantly glued to four different UK news channels as well as the French media for live updates about the tragic events.”
Lisa said that the protests which took place at the Place de la République following the massacre at Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday were “peaceful” and that there was a sense of camaraderie among those involved.
“Over 10,000 people took part, and they were all talking calmly amongst themselves. Everyone was in such a state of shock.”
Lisa revealed that there had been a steadily growing presence of military police in Paris since 2011.
“I think the French people had become used to this presence – before the shootings. The number of armed officers had been increasing on the streets of Paris. There were random bag checks and enforced security in places other than main tourist spots.”
Commenting on the impact of last week’s events on one of the world’s most famous cities, Lisa said that there is an underlying sense of “tension” which has extended to all areas of the country.
“I went for a run last Thursday and I felt tense and mistrustful of everyone around me. It has made me feel paranoid and I am constantly looking over my shoulder. I do not think I can go to Brussels for a day trip even though I had planned to, because Gare du Nord is a high risk train station.
“I used to live near the supermarket where the hostages were held on Friday, yet it was always regarded as one of the safest places.”