Paris attacks: Security guard ‘stopped bomber from entering stadium’

Spectators gather on the pitch following the match. Picture: AFP/Getty
Spectators gather on the pitch following the match. Picture: AFP/Getty
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A SECURITY guard at the Stade de France prevented one of the suicide bombers entering the Paris stadium, according to reports.

It emerged on Saturday from police and workers at the stadium that at least one of the attackers had a ticket for the friendly match between France and Germany at the 80,000-seater venue.

A security guard on duty in the players’ tunnel, who asked to be identified by his first name Zouheir, said that the attacker was found to be wearing an explosives vest when he was frisked at the stadium’s entrance around 15 minutes into the match.

Zouheir said that the attacker backed away from security and detonated the vest, which Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said was loaded with explosives and bolts.

Zouheir, who was stationed in the tunnel leading from the dressing rooms to the pitch, said he had been briefed on events outside the stadium by the security frisking team on duty at the entrance.

A police officer confirmed the sequence of events, adding that police suspected the attacker aimed to detonate the vest inside the arena.

Supporters leave the Stade de France after the match. Picture: Getty

Supporters leave the Stade de France after the match. Picture: Getty

A second attacker also blew himself up outside the stadium less than five minutes later, while a third suicide bomber detonated explosives at a McDonald’s restaurant nearby.

One civilian was killed in the attacks, police said.

The blasts occurred during the first half of the match, causing confusion among players and spectators inside the stadium.

Zouheir said that he thought the blast was a firecracker - not uncommon at major European football matches - but that the evacuation of French president Francois Hollande, in attendance at the match, along with chatter on his walkie-talkie alerted him to a greater danger.

Zouheir told reporters: “Once I saw [Francois] Hollande being evacuated, I knew it wasn’t firecrackers.”

The security guard revealed that he could see the VIP section from his post in the players’ tunnel, and saw the president leave after the first blast.

The match continued, with French Football Federation chief Noel le Graet confirming that the information was not communicated to fans or players in order to avoid causing panic.

Some supporters revealed that the news began to spread amongst fans late in the second half.

One fan said that although he began getting news alerts on his mobile phone about the attacks in Paris, he didn’t immediately make the connection with the blasts heard at the stadium, believing the loud noise to be firecrackers.

Germany manager Joachim Low said after the match that he feared an attack as soon as he heard the blast, adding: “It was very loud. You could imagine what had happened.”

The German team had been involved in a bomb scare at their hotel in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, with the five-star Hotel Molitor being evaucated.

The attacks in Paris occurred just seven months before the country is due to hold the 2016 European Championship tournament.