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French capital ‘traumatized’ on day after terror assault

NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant is in Paris and has been speaking to people there all day about the deadly attacks that happened Friday. He joins Hari Sreenivasan with more on residents’ sentiments.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:

    NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant is in Paris and has been speaking to people there all day.

    Malcolm, give us a sense of what the mood's like on the street?

  • MALCOLM BRABANT, NEWSHOUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT:

    It's no exaggeration to say that this is a city that has been completely traumatized by the events of last night.

    Driving into Paris today, you get the sense it was completely eerie. People were cleared off the streets. They were clearly taking the advice of the police to stay home and that's because of just the complete uncertainty that there may still be some terrorists out there.

    That has certainly been ramped up during the course of the day because there have been ISIS people who issued threats urging Muslims to come out and attack targets here, clearly trying to capitalize on the fear that there is in the city.

    Behind me, you can see the people are lighting candles close to the concert hall where nearly 90 people were slaughtered. And people are completely stunned by what has happened. They thought that "Charlie Hebdo" was absolutely terrible, but this is many times worse.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    Have — I see traffic and I see people on the streets, but have the shopkeepers decided to stay closed or is it slower than a usual weekend right now? Do you see more police presence?

  • BRABANT:

    This is normally a bustling city and as I said, coming into the city was a complete shock to see just how many stores were closed down. It was almost like a Sunday with nobody on the streets at all, just convenience stores, and things like that.

    The places where there have been queues have been blood donation centers where Parisians have been coming out to show solidarity with those 90 people who are critically injured, and they have been turning out in such large numbers, that the blood centers have had to turn them away and send them to other places.

    There have also been people at the hospitals coming trying to find lost ones, trying to identify people who are, you know, missing. It's– there's still– I mean, gradually I think Paris is coming to terms with what has happened but there is still a huge sense of shock here.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    We've heard that there were military forces deployed on the streets to protect certain areas. Are you seeing increased police presence in most of the neighborhoods that you're traveling through?

  • BRABANT:

    Well, I have to say that I'm quite surprised that I haven't actually seen this many policemen as I have expected to, although there have been about 1,500 soldiers who have been deployed to Paris.

    But what is quite significant is that area where you'd expect people to come together have been closed down monuments such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, all of these places have been closed down.

    The police have been urging people not to gather in groups because of the potential for causing a target for other potential terrorists who might be here.

    But people are defying that order in various places, such as the Place de la Republique, which is a place which is symbolic of France, and they've been gathering around the monument there.

    Also, lighting candles and talking in terms of what needs to happen to France and basically people on the streets are saying they need to be unified. They can't start to hate because that's what the terrorists are trying to create with the actions that they carried out yesterday.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    Malcolm, you mentioned they are still recovering in some ways from the "Charlie Hebdo" attack. What is it that they think needs to be done to try to keep themselves secure?

  • BRABANT:

    I think that people are completely confused about that question. I don't think people know how you do generate security.

    I was talking to one man at the Place de la Republique. He said that basically what you have to do is you have to love people.

    But the problem is that people here think that this, perhaps, is the start of some kind of horrendous war that is not one that is defined by sorts of international wars that we've had before, but ones that is going to be carried out in terms of terror attacks in places all across Europe.

    Perhaps — there is a sense that perhaps this is the start of something else, that the Islamic State is trying to, will hit other places in the future, not just Paris.

    But they do seem to say in their messages that they put out today claiming responsibility for this, that they have a particular gripe against France, and they say they will continue to hit France. And so, people here aren't necessarily feeling secure.

  • SREENIVASAN:

    NewsHour special correspondent Malcolm Brabant joining us from the streets of Paris tonight — thanks so much.

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