Families of Bataclan victims have filed a lawsuit against the French government, after it emerged that anti-terrorist soldiers were right outside one of the attack sites but were ordered to hold back and give their guns to police.
The coordinated attacks on November 13, 2015 led to the deaths of 130 people across the French capital, 90 of whom were shot dead at the Bataclan music venue. But a parliamentary inquiry later revealed that eight anti-terror soldiers who were outside the venue had been told not to intervene or to pass their weapons to police.
Eighteen families of victims have now filed a lawsuit against the French government, demanding answers.
“They were described in the media as the force specially created against the threat of terrorism, so why was this force which had the chance to intervene told not to?” Oceane Bimbeau, a lawyer for one of the families, told RT.
“The question we want answered is why it took 2.5 hours for the order to engage to be given, when the officers were there from the beginning.”
Jean Sannier, another lawyer for one of the families, spoke to RT about the allegations, which reportedly come from a member of the National Gendarmerie, who wishes to remain anonymous.
“On the night of the Bataclan attack, there was a squadron of gendarmes assigned to protect the house of then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls,” he explained, adding that they were alerted immediately. However, he said they were then given a “very curious order – they were told to stand down.”
Sannier also said that another unit was equally ready and equipped with emergency medical supplies, but it was also not deployed to help the victims.
“If this equipment had been available to help victims hurt while the decision to intervene was being taken, it’s possible more people would have survived,” he said, questioning why so much money was spent on anti-terror forces if they were not going to be deployed.
He questioned whether it was just a “political masquerade to make people believe they are protected,” bearing in mind that “we clearly see people were massacred with Kalashnikovs just a few meters from this unit and that they had terrorists in their sight but were told not to pull the trigger.”
The French army, meanwhile, insists soldiers took all measures possible to assist in the situation, securing the area around the Bataclan and protecting fleeing victims.
“The military intervened spontaneously. They arrived while police were already present. The military secured areas around the Bataclan in coordination with, and at the request of, the internal security forces,” Patrik Steiger of the French Armed Forces said in a statement, as quoted by France 24.
RT has reached out to the police for a response to the allegations, but they have not yet provided any comment.
Meanwhile, officials say the terrorism threat in France – which has been on high alert since January 2015 – will not end anytime soon, with the Paris public prosecutor stating in January that the threat in the country remains “very high.”
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