One of the suicide bombers who took part in yesterday’s attacks in Paris had a ticket to enter the France vs. Germany soccer game but was turned away at the gate. The attacker apparently tried to enter the 80,000-person venue 15 minutes after the game had started but security at the gate discovered he was wearing an explosive vest, a Stade de France guard tells the Wall Street Journal.
The attacker detonated his vest when he was trying to escape from security, according to the Journal’s source, who says he wasn’t there at the time but was briefed on what took place. Law enforcement officials speculate the attacker wanted to detonate his vest inside the stadium to cause a deadly stampede, according to a police officer who confirmed the events. After he detonated his vest, another attacker set off a suicide bomb outside the stadium and shortly thereafter a third detonated a bomb at a McDonald’s nearby.
“The account sheds light on why the suicide attacks on Stade de France failed to cause the carnage that occurred at the Bataclan concert hall and restaurants across Paris,” notes the Journal.
The first two explosions were clearly heard inside the stadium during the first half of the game. Hollande was quickly evacuated but the players and fans were not immediately told about what was going on to avoid panic. The coaches, however, were told about the violence reported around the stadium and had to decide whether to tell the players. They decided to keep them in the dark, reports the New York Times. At the time the extent of the mayhem was not known.
The Times’ Sam Broden describes the “surreal atmosphere” at the stadium:
The coaches’ decisions, along with typically spotty cellphone reception during major events at the cavernous Stade de France just north of Paris, made for a surreal atmosphere: The players and most of the fans played and cheered as usual, unaware of what was going on around them, while a smattering of coaches, officials and journalists (all of whom had access to the Internet) grimly followed the escalating carnage of the coordinated terrorist attacks that killed at least 127 people and injured scores more.