Singaporeans recount horror of ISIS attacks in Paris
ISIS attacks in Paris have left at least 128 dead, more than 350 injured. Two S'poreans there recount the night's events to ELIZABETH LAW (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Since she moved to Paris last December, Singaporean Tricia Teo, 27, has twice found herself caught up in the madness that follows a terror attack.
The student was there in January when gunmen opened fire in the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, plunging France into three days of terror as the gunmen went on a rampage. The magazine had published images that offended Muslims.
On Friday, it happened again at a place she had been to and a hangout for many.
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists opened fire on Parisians gathered for a night out.
At least 128 people were killed in a series of attacks in six locations across the city, including the Bataclan. The popular concert venue was filled with some 1,500 revellers who had gathered for a concert.
The Stade de France, the country's national stadium where France had been playing an exhibition football match against Germany, also came under attack.
On Friday night, Ms Teo had to pack for a trip and stayed in her apartment in the 14th district.
Most of the attacks happened in the 10th and 11th districts, which are about a 20-minute train ride away.
A friend sent a text message to Ms Teo about the attacks close to midnight - about three hours after the initial attack - and she spent the next four hours on her computer reading up on the tragedy.
The incessant blaring of sirens and sense of dread kept many awake that night.
"I felt sick to the stomach and my hands couldn't stop shaking because I couldn't imagine how anyone could be so cruel," said Ms Teo, her voice still shaking some 10 hours after the tragedy unfolded.
"This has been my home for almost a year. I feel angry and disgusted."
France had announced a state of emergency and Paris was thrown into confusion as reports emerged that there were more terrorists on the run.
Singaporean Sarah Khiu thought it was a random shooting when she saw a large number of armed police officers as she got off the Metro on Friday night.
Walking back to Hotel Saint Sebestian, where she was spending her last night in France, she realised what had happened only when she switched on the television in her hotel room.
The executive was greeted with shocking images of the unfolding tragedy.
Ms Khiu's hotel was only a three-minute walk from the Bataclan, where three gunmen entered at about 9.30pm local time and started shooting at concertgoers.
"Through the night, I could hear the sound of siren going up and down the street," she said, adding that the hotel kept guests indoors and demanded proof of stay from those coming in.
Ms Khiu left Paris early yesterday morning to return home as planned.
"Such an attack could have happened to anyone in any country," she said.
"It was just a regular Friday night, people were out watching a game, at a concert, having dinner with friends and suddenly life is changed forever."
Ms Teo said it is hard to imagine something like this happening in Singapore where racial harmony is stressed upon.
"There is more tolerance in Singapore but here in France, there is a lot of fear, ignorance and suspicion of the Muslim community," she added.
Now she is worried that some groups will be targeted in retaliatory attacks.
"On one hand, they say that everyone is French, regardless of creed and race," she said.
"But on the other hand, there is a lot of stigma which is dangerous because it pits people against one other."
IN PARIS: Ms Tricia Teo.
ISIS claims responsibility for Paris, Beirut attacks
What we say
7 reasons to head down to GameStart Asia
GameStart Asia 2015 is on this weekend with twice as much floor space of gaming goodness compared to last year's inaugural edition.
Sadly, its last day is today (Nov 15) from 10am to 8pm.
If you're still not sure about whether to head down to Suntec City, here are seven good reasons for you to check it out.
THE STAR WARS BATTLE POD
TNP PHOTO: GREGORY LOO
It's Star Wars season and there's no better way for fans to get into the mood for The Force Awakens than with a visit to GameStart to try out the Star Wars Battle Pod arcade game.
The good folks at Geek Culture have teamed up with Bandai Namco to make available the unit from the Japanese game maker's unit offices here in Singapore.
On entering the all-encompassing pod, you're immediately immersed into an iconic Star Wars battle scene and thrust behind the controls of one of the sci-fi franchise's beloved vehicles.
From the snowy fields of Hoth to the battle to destroy the Death Star, it's an exciting rush down memory lane that will certainly evoke waves of nostalgia as you pilot craft like Luke Skywalker's X-Wing or the Millennium Falcon.
It might be a short experience and the queue for it long, but the Battle Pod is definitely worth the wait for the most ardent Star Wars fans as the game won't be available elsewhere in Singapore.
Each level costs $3 to play and the top scorers of the game's five different levels during the convention will each win a prize.
A CHANCE TO TRY OUT THE PLAYSTATION VR
Sony's newest gaming gear is here and boy, is it impressive.
The PlayStation VR is an impressive piece of tech for the PlayStation 4 that puts you in a 3-D gaming world via a headset.
While the Summer Lesson demo that I tried wasn't the most riveting experience (you play a Japanese teacher to a Caucasian singer named Allison who's on a summer break in Japan), it did give an idea as to the kind of immersion one can expect with the ability to look around in all directions.
There are other demos around to try out, but do take note that Sony's pre-registration slots have all been snapped up.
However, you can still try your luck by joining the queue to try out the headset.
PHOTO: GAMESTART ASIA
Fact: Geeks love swag.
Okay. Everybody loves swag. While GameStart isn't a haven for shopping like many other conventions, it does offer a chance for gamers to snag some lovely gaming swag.
There's something for everyone at GameStart. From awesome artwork and statues at the Kinetiquettes booth who have a mind blowing statue of Street Fighter baddie M. Bison – that levitates in a special case – up for pre-order; to the witty and funny gaming t-shirts from Xmashed Gear.
Plus, the first 500 attendees who turn up will get a special GameStart loot bag containing random awesome merchandise like games, accessories and apparel.
TNP PHOTO: GREGORY LOO
Gaming has come a long, long way since the first machines got us hooked, but some of those old games are still just as fun to play.
The RetroDNA section of GameStart is a delightful place for older gamers like me who grew up with classic video games like Super Mario Bros and Contra.
Featuring an impressive range of old consoles like the good old Nintendo Famicom and Sega Megadrive, it's an opportunity for younger gamers to take a look at what gaming used to be like – insane old school gaming difficulty included of course.
There are also arcade cabinets featuring games like Metal Slug, Street Fighter II and King of Fighters.
You can even try out the extremely rare Virtual Boy, Nintendo's all-red virtual reality console from the nineties for a truly unique experience.
Oh, and in case you young ones are feeling masochistic enough to try out Contra, key in this sequence at the title screen: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start.
You'll thank me later.
GAMES, GAMES, GAMES!
PHOTO: GAMESTART ASIA
Of course, GameStart is a gaming convention and so there are plenty of triple A titles available for trying out.
As a PlayStation 4 exclusive, Capcom's Street Fighter V is being showcased at Sony's massive two-storey booth along with the much-vaunted Star Wars: Battlefront, which is set for release next week.
For PC gamers, Blizzard has the recently-released Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void – the third and final chapter of the Starcraft II saga – on show along with the sixth expansion for its long-running World of Warcraft series, Legion.
Fans of the Marvel cinematic universe can also try out Lego Marvel's Avengers, which is due for release in January while manga and anime fans can look forward to trying out Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 at Namco Bandai's booth.
GREAT LOCAL GAMES BY LOCAL DEVELOPERS
PHOTO: GAMESTART ASIA
Singapore has a really vibrant video game development scene going on and there's no better place to check it out than at our very own gaming convention.
From mobile games to full-fledged PC and console games, attendees can try out a wide range of locally-made games that will certainly impress with their quality.
Local game maker Witching Hour Studios has a booth showcasing its very impressive Masquerada: Songs and Shadows RPG which is bound for PC and consoles, while side-scrolling shooter Rocketbirds 2 from local studio Ratloop Asia is also set to be released on the PlayStation Network.
Want something with a distinctly local flavour? A booth set up by the Media Development Authority has clustered together a number of local devs, including the rather endearing Kan-Cheong! Kopitiam Saga, which is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play as part of MDA's SG50 video games series.
PHOTOS: GAMESTART ASIA
And finally, what's a convention without cosplay?
Singapore's cosplayers are certainly out to play at GameStart with their fancy and elaborate costumes.
If that's not enough, GameStart has three celebrity cosplayers on board in South Korea's Tuna as well as Karin – also known as Acanthastar Cosplay – and Johnny (Junkers Cosplay Inc.) from the US.
Don't forget to snap a photo with them!
Paris attacks: Scenes from the ground
Six different locations. More than 120 people dead.
The coordinated attacks on Paris late on Friday (Nov 13) is the worst such violence in France's history.
The assailants struck at least six different venues, ranging from the Stade de France football stadium to a sidewalk cafe.
Eight attackers are confirmed dead - seven from suicide vests, while one was shot.
The horror was captured on video by many Parisians and uploaded to various social media channels.
Bataclan, a concert venue
A full house of 1,500 people were packed into the popular venue in eastern Paris for a concert by the US band Eagles of Death Metal.
About an hour after the band took to the stage, the concert hall was turned into “a bloodbath” according to a French radio reporter at the scene as black-clad gunmen wielding AK-47s stormed into the hall and fired calmly and methodically at hundreds of screaming concert-goers.
One Instagram user uploaded a video of ambulances rushing to the scene:
Two hours later, with gunmen holding people within hostage, police stormed the venue.
A video uploaded to Instagram purportedly shows the moment police entering the Bataclan:
Four assailants were killed after police stormed in – three by activating their suicide vests and a fourth shot dead – but not before they had killed at least 82 people.
Those who survived in the incident were quickly evacuated:
French President Francois Hollande visited the scene later, together with Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
A few hundred metres from the Bataclan, the terrace of the Casa Nostra pizzeria was targeted, and five people were killed by attackers wielding automatic rifles, according to a witness, reported AFP.
Rue de Charonne
At a cafe, La Belle Equipe, on the sidewalk along the Rue de Charonne, 18 people were killed. One witness told AFP that he heard shots ring out for two or three minutes.
Footage from an in-car camera shows the driver moving towards Rue de Charonne, before slowing down as a car in front stops and makes a U-turn, as shots ring out in the distance.
Stade de France
A short clip being widely shared shows the moment in the friendly match between France and Germany at the Stade de France when a bomb goes off.
Three loud explosions were heard outside the stadium during the first half of the match.
At least four people died outside the venue, which staged the 1998 World Cup final, with several others seriously hurt.
One of the explosions was near a McDonald’s restaurant on the fringes of the stadium.
A photographer for the Associated Press describes the scene inside the stadium:
French President Francois Hollande, who was watching the game, was immediately evacuated.
The two sides played on to the end. Afterwards, bewildered fans poured onto the pitch while waiting for all the exits to be declared secure.
Fans later left the stadium singing La Marseillaise, the French national anthem.
Le Carillon, a bar, and Cambodian restaurant Le Petit Cambodge
Shots were fired on both establishments, which are opposite each other on Rue Bichat.
The New York Times reports that about 14 people were killed here, with body bags seen outside the restaurant.
One witness told AFP: “It was surreal, everyone was on the ground. No one was moving inside the Petit Cambodge and everyone was on the ground in (the adjacent) Carillon bar.
"It was very calm – people didn’t understand what was going on. A girl was being carried in the arms of a young man. She seemed to be dead.”
One Parisian uploaded this video after the shootings:
The morning after the attack, bullet holes can be seen on the windows of Le Carillon:
National U-18 midfielder Joshua Pereira wins Dollah Kassim Award
National Under-18 midfielder Joshua Bernard Pereira beat five other nominees to win this year's The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award.
He was presented the trophy this morning at Jurongville Secondary School, where the National Football Academy (NFA) graduation ceremony was also held.
With the win, the lanky youngster also snagged the the Singapore Pools Passport to Excellence, which funds a training stint at a reputable club overseas.
The other nominees were strikers Glenn Kweh and Benjamin Davis (both 15), midfielder Elliot Ng and playmaker Saifullah Akbar (both 16), midfielder Justin Hui (17).
Joshua, who stands at 1.80m, said: "I didn't expect it all at because the other nominees are all really good players.
"I want to thank all the coaches, my Under-18 teammates, my family, friends and everyone who has helped guide me through my football journey."
The New Paper editor Dominic Nathan said: "Joshua embodies what the Dollah Kassim Award is all about.
"He has suffered many setbacks in his young career, but refused to let them get him down.
"If he continues to show the same qualities that has helped him get to where he is today, I'm sure he will go far."
Added Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin: "We are very proud of all six nominees.
"It's never easy to select just one winner, but the panel of judges have done their work and I wish to congratulate Joshua on his win.
"My advice to him is to persevere, keep working hard and try to go as far as possible in his football career."
The Dollah Kassim Award was just reward for Joshua's stellar year.
He was one of the national Under-18 team’s stand-out performers during the qualification tournament in October for next year’s AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Under-19 Championship.
While the Cubs finished third in their group in Bangkok last month, behind South Korea and Thailand, and failed to qualify for the finals in Bahrain, Joshua caught the eye of key personnel at the FAS, including technical director Michel Sablon and national youth teams head coach Richard Tardy.
The first-year hospitality and tourism management student at Temasek Polytechnic was rewarded for his performances in Thailand with an invitation to train with the Courts Young Lions, the Under-23 developmental team that play in the professional S.League.
What makes the youngster’s rise even more remarkable is that he has had to bounce back from two leg breaks.
He fractured his right fibula when he was 12 and then suffered a broken ankle four years later, in 2013.
The Dollah Kassim Award — initiated by The New Paper in partnership with Singapore Pools and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) in 2010 — recognises both footballing excellence and character, both of which the late Dollah had in abundance.
Nicknamed “The Gelek King”, Dollah was well loved in the local football fraternity, and was widely regarded as one of Singapore’s most skilful players.
He died at the age of 61 in 2010.
Previous winners of the award Ammirul Emmran Mazlan (2010) and Adam Swandi (2011) each spent two weeks with English Premier League side Newcastle United, while the winners in the last three years — R Aaravin (2012), Hazim Faiz Hassan (2013) and Muhelmy Suhaimi (2014) — polished their skills at French outfit FC Metz.
Paris attacks: Singapore raises alert level
Singapore has raised its alert level in the wake of the Paris attacks, Minister for Home Affairs Mr K Shanmugam said in a statement on Saturday.
Security measures and border checks have also been stepped up.
"These attacks show that no country is immune, even when there is a state of heightened security," said Mr Shanmugam.
"We encourage everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities or persons to the authorities."
A wave of bombings and shootings at five or more different Paris locations on Friday evening left at least 120 people dead.
French President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency and shut national borders.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong offered his condolences to the victims of the attacks and their families in a Facebook post early Saturday morning.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, who just returned from Paris on Thursday, also extended his condolences to victims and their families.
He said he had not been informed of any Singaporean casualties, and that registered Singaporeans in Paris are being contacted by the embassy to ascertain their safety.
Philippine police went on full alert nationwide, ahead of next week’s summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Manila, beefing up security to ensure the safety of thousands of summit delegates, reported Reuters.
In the US, police in major cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia stepped up security, ahead of a weekend full of sports events, reported USA Today.
Five hot firefighters to catch in action in Singapore
Elite rescuers from 15 countries have gathered here for the Singapore-Global Firefighters and Paramedics Challenge (SGFPC) this week.
Here are five very good reasons to head down to Singapore Expo today (Nov 14) at 2pm to catch them live in action for the finals.
1. Azmir Ali Ameer Ali, 29, Singapore
When the Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) specialist went to Kelantan for to assist with flood relief earlier this year, he was enthusiastically greeted by residents.
They thought he was popular Malaysian actor Remy Ishak.
And they're not the only ones who get confused between the two.
Azmir on the left and Malaysian actor Remy Ishak on the right. PHOTOS: NABILAH AWANG, ORANGE EVENT
“I find it hilarious whenever my niece and nephews think it's whenever they see Remy on TV,” he said.
Azmir is a defending champion of the SGFPC and is representing Singapore again this year ... just a week before he is set to wed his girlfriend of two years. Sorry, ladies!
2. Josh Caddy, 28, Australia
He has a degree in law, saves lives for a living and cooks in his free time. If that doesn’t make you all tingly inside, we don’t know what will.
“Women react differently when i tell them I’m a firefighter, maybe because it is a respectable job," said Caddy.
3. Neil Boclongan, 32, Philippines
The fresh-faced firefighter from Quezon City Fire Department is a father of two.
When asked what his hobby is, he said: “Sleeping. I sleep whenever I have the time, especially during off days. I just like to sleep.”
Looks like the beauty sleep has done him some good.
4. Chan Kin Keong, 28, Macau
Chan loves to exercise.
He exercises at work and plays sports during his free time. He's been a firefighter for six years.
“I like how people, especially women, feel secure around me. It makes me feel important."
Not only being around him makes you feel secure, his adorable baby-faced grin will also melt all your troubles away.
5. Luke Sedge, 39, United Kingdom
London Fire Brigade has graced us with the presence of one of their most good-looking firefighters.
Seven years ago, there was probably someone who shared the same sentiments.
The father of two girls met his wife at a fellow officer’s wedding then and stole her heart with his dance moves.
“She loved the way I danced. She's fed me well since then so I can hardly move like that now."
Paris attacks: Witness relates 'bloodbath' at concert venue
A French radio reporter who was inside the Bataclan theatre that came under attack Friday gave a harrowing account of the “10 horrific minutes” when black-clothed gunmen wielding AK-47s entered and fired calmly and randomly at hundreds of screaming concertgoers.
“It was a bloodbath,” Julien Pierce, a reporter for France’s Europe 1 radio station, told CNN.
“People yelled, screamed and everybody lying on the floor, and it lasted for 10 minutes, 10 minutes, 10 horrific minutes where everybody was on the floor covering their head(s).”
“We heard so many gunshots and the terrorists were very calm, very determined and they reloaded three or four times their weapons and they didn’t shout anything. They didn’t say anything.”
Pierce recounted seeing 20 to 25 bodies on the floor and others very badly injured.
Police sources later said at least 100 people were killed at the attack on the concert venue.
The crowd who had gathered to watch a concert by the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan theatre in eastern Paris on Friday night.
Pierce said he was lucky to be near the front of the stage as the gunmen, wearing black clothes and wielding AK-47s, opened fire.
“People started to try to escape to walk on people on the floor and try to find the exits, and I found an exit when the terrorists reloaded their guns in the meantime, and I climbed on the stage and we found an exit.”
The journalist said he took a teenage girl who was bleeding heavily and carried her to a taxi where he told the driver to take her to hospital.
He said that as he was speaking to CNN some of his friends were still hiding inside the theatre.
“They are hiding in some kind of room in the dark and they text me, and they are very afraid, of course, and they are waiting for the police to intervene, but it’s been over two hours now and this is terrible.”
Later in the night police stormed the venue.
Three suspected assailants were shot dead during the assault.
Pierce said he saw the face of one of the gunmen, who was probably 20 to 25 years old.
Asked if he could hear what language they were speaking, he replied, “Nothing. I heard nothing, just the yelling and screaming of the people. They didn’t shout anything. They didn’t say anything. They said nothing. They just shot. They just shoot. They were just shooting at people.”
“What happened was terrible. I mean, honestly, 15 minutes, 10 minutes of gunshots firing randomly in a small concert room. I mean, it’s not a huge concert room. It’s a small one. Two thousand people were there maximum and it was – it was horrible.” - AFP