South African survives and describes Paris massacre
Cape Town - A South African graduate has described in chilling detail how she lay down and played dead while dozens of people were shot right in front of her when attackers stormed the Paris venue where she was attending a concert on Friday night.
Isobel Bowdery, 22, who graduated from the University of Cape Town last year, was at a sold-out rock concert at the Bataclan hall when three attackers entered and started firing assault rifles into the crowd. At least 89 people were killed there.
In a post on her Facebook page, accompanied by a picture of her bloodied shirt, Bowdery said she initially thought the attack was part of the show, and that she never thought something like that would happen to her.
The Facebook post had been shared 1.3 million times by Sunday morning.
She also told how she thought for 45 minutes that her boyfriend had been killed, and had to be consoled by strangers.
"It wasn't just a terrorist attack, it was a massacre. Dozens of people were shot right in front of me. Pools of blood filled the floor. Cries of grown men who held their girlfriend's dead bodies pierced the small music venue. Futures demolished, families heartbroken in an instant," she wrote.
"Shocked and alone, I pretended to be dead for over an hour, lying among people who could see their loved ones motionless. Holding my breath, trying to not move, not cry - not giving those men the fear they longed to see.
"I was incredibly lucky to survive. But so many didn't. The people who had been there for the exact same reasons as I - to have a fun Friday night - were innocent. This world is cruel. And acts like this are supposed to highlight the depravity of humans and the images of those men circling us like vultures will haunt me for the rest of my life."
Bowdery said the experience didn't feel real, and she kept expecting somebody to say it was just a nightmare.
She also thanked the heroes, such as a man who covered her head while she whimpered, a couple whose words of love kept her believing in the good in the world, and the strangers who comforted her.
Offering comfort to those who lost loved ones, Bowdery said she believed the last thoughts of those who died were not on the attackers but of the people they loved.
"As I lay down in the blood of strangers and waiting for my bullet to end my mere 22 years, I envisioned every face that I have ever loved and whispered I love you. Over and over again. Reflecting on the highlights of my life. Wishing that those I love knew just how much, wishing that they knew that no matter what happened to me, to keep believing in the good in people. To not let those men win."