Violence Erupts Around Soccer Game in Paris

Fans walked on the field dazed, hugging each other, after the game had ended

On a night of terrifying violence in Paris with explosions resonating outside a massive stadium in the city, France beat Germany 2-0 Friday in a game overshadowed by bloodshed that left at least 129 dead.

During the first half of the match, two explosions went off nearby. The first, at around 9:20 p.m., was a short and crisp bang.

"We heard them, but we thought they were home-made devices or fireworks," soccer fan Frederic Lavergne told The Associated Press as he left the stadium. "We had no idea at the time what it was."

The next "bang" followed only minutes later, clearly audible as it ripped through the chill air.

The noise inside the stadium was low at that point, since there was little excitement in the game, and the sounds of the sirens outside were loud and clear. So was the whirling sounds of the police helicopter buzzing overhead.

By the end of the match, the mood was one of silent contemplation as news filtered in through mobile phones and social networks relaying the carnage outside.

Moments after the referee had blown his final whistle, hundreds of fans started streaming onto the field. At first, match stewards in their fluorescent tops surely were confused by the commotion. But it was soon clear that the fans just wanted to go onto the field, rather than face going outside.

"We preferred to stay on the field, that's where we felt safest," Lavergne said. "We had difficulty understanding the explanations inside the stadium."

After a second public address announcement reassuring fans that it was safe to leave and to take public transport, fans started moving out.

French President Francois Hollande, who was in the stadium, was evacuated and immediately held an emergency meeting.

"We're all shaken and shocked," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "For me personally, the game and the sport loses importance. We're at a loss. We don't know what to do."

The German team, which was evacuated from its hotel in western Paris on Friday morning following a bomb scare, remained in the stadium.

France will host the European Championship next year, and Friday's match was one of a handful of games remaining for coach Didier Deschamps to test the national team before the tournament.

There will now be doubts as to whether it will be safe to host the tournament, with 24 teams involved in matches across the country.

France's afternoon training session, which was scheduled to be open to the public, was also canceled and will now be held behind closed doors.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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