Posted by on November 18, 2015

I have been following a lot of the reporting on the attacks in Paris.  One question that I haven’t seen raised (but maybe I just missed it): The attackers at the Bataclan concert venue entered the building and starting firing at 9:40pm.  The French police and troops stormed the building at 12:20am, fully two and forty minutes later.  So the obvious question is: What were they waiting for?

I get that, in a normal hostage situation, you attempt to negotiate first.  But according to the survivors, the attackers spent those 160 minutes firing, reloading and firing again.  They were also wearing suicide bombing vests – not normally an indication of a willingness to negotiate.  All of this was known to the assembled French police and troops, since there was a steady stream of escapees coming out of the building.  Also, presumably much of the gunfire could be heard outside.

So, I repeat, what were they waiting for?

I also understand that it probably took some time to assemble the heavily armed units that ultimately stormed the building.  But regular French police, unlike English ones, are routinely equipped with side-arms.  France also has, by European standards, a large police force relative to its population – about 50% bigger than the UK’s and about 20% bigger than Germany’s.  True, going up against terrorists armed with automatic weapons when you only have a  side-arm is not a recipe for longevity, but isn’t that their job?  And aren’t they supposed to be trained professionals and not just ragtag terrorists?  And weren’t there a lot more of them?

So, I repeat for the final time, what were they waiting for?

Roger Barris

Weybridge, United Kingdom

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2 Comments on "Paris Attacks: A Quick Question"

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Jim F

Roger, grab some popcorn and watch the documentary on YouTube about the Mumbai attacks. The attackers wandered around the city for over two days killing people, while the police did nothing.

My guess is that as in India, the “police” in France are people who signed up to get a regular paycheck, not actually get into a scary shootout.