Malaysian students in Paris hole up at home

Malaysian students in Paris hole up at home
PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA - Tension is high in Paris and its people are gripped by fear after the terror attacks, say Malaysian students in France.

For one Malaysian student, it was a birthday that she would never forget.

The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was the "most terrifying night ever" as gunmen and suicide bombers attacked ­several locations across the French capital on Friday, killing more than 128 people.

"I was enjoying some awesome truffle pasta, Florentine steak and a good wine when suddenly several people ran into the restaurant.

"Everyone started to panic on seeing how afraid these people looked and diners started to hide at the back of the restaurant," she said.

The Bataclan concert hall, where hundreds of people were being held hostage by gunmen and systematically shot, was only a block away.

The student and the other people hid in the restaurant for quite a while until the police instructed them to leave.

"But the streets were blocked and the metro service closed. There was no possibility of getting a taxi or taking a bus either," she said.

"So, I sheltered at a friend's house nearby."

But she is very shaken up by the ordeal.

"I just want to come home now," she said.

Another student, who also declined to be named, said many people were staying home in the aftermath.

"They're even afraid to take the Metro or walk about now," said the Masters in Business Administration student.

"It's panic. That's the worst part."

Security in Paris had been ­heightened and some hotels had barred their main doors, she said.

"I left Paris right before it happened. The attack started at about 10.40pm. I left at about 9.30pm."

The student explained that she had planned to go out to central Paris, the area where the restaurants were hit, but had changed her mind and had gone home instead.

She is now in her home in the suburbs.

Those that she knew, living in and around Paris, were contacting each other, making sure that everyone was all right, the student said.

She also received a barrage of messages on her cellphone from concerned loved ones in Europe and Malaysia.

Another Malaysian student, Anthea Siow, was also staying indoors because tensions in the city were high.

"It was chaos last night. I could see a lot of ambulances passing my house. I don't live very close to those places where the shootings happened but I am not that far from there either," she said.

"I didn't hear any gunfire but it scared me when I heard a lot of vehicles and ambulances rushing past my apartment block.

"Many Parisians are traumatised. A Paris friend has told me to stay home, calling the incident a very serious case."

The friend, who studies with her at the American University of Paris, lives only 3km away from one of the scenes of the attacks.

Siow said she was keeping close tabs on her university website and e-mail for any announcements.

"The fact that my university is the American University with a lot of American students, and in the heart of Paris, makes us worry all the more," she added.

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