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Paris Mourns Victims Of Terror Attacks


There were Gregorian chants this morning inside the city's famed Notre Dame Cathedral. Like other landmarks around the city, it's closed to tour groups this morning. But a memorial mass is scheduled for tonight held by the archbishop of Paris. The city has begun three days of official mourning. We go now live to reporter Lauren Frayer, who is standing in front of Notre Dame in the center of Paris. Lauren, what are you seeing? What's the scene like?

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: It's an unseasonably warm day here. The sun is shining. You're starting to see Christmas decorations out around Paris. But this is a city in mourning. Flags are at half-staff. Soldiers have erected barricades outside the cathedral in front of me. There are soldiers patrolling with machine guns. Tours of Notre Dame are canceled today. There's a big canceled sign over a billboard announcing a choral concert. The Eiffel Tower was closed. It went dark last night in an act of mourning. Disneyland Paris is closed through Tuesday. So you have a lot of families and tourists wandering around the city instead, taking snapshots of piles of flowers on the street, impromptu memorials for the victims of these attacks.

MARTIN: Have you been able to talk with folks walking around? Are people feeling unstable? Are they worried about their security?

FRAYER: They are. French people, local residents, some of them say they're frightened to come outside. On Friday night, police were telling them to stay indoors. It was just too dangerous. Authorities initially said that all attackers had been killed, either in suicide attacks or by French forces. But now French media are reporting that a car has been found - a possible getaway vehicle - outside the city center, filled with Kalashnikov rifles. That could possibly suggest that suspects or accomplices got away and could still be on the loose. And that has people frightened. I met an American couple in front of Notre Dame here, John and Pat Hamus (ph) from New Jersey. And here's what they had to say.

JOHN HAMUS: Well, we always enjoy Paris. but this has been a little scary. We...

PAT HAMUS: Scary and sad - very sad.

J. HAMUS: We really feel badly about, you know, what's happened and the poor people. And, you know, this is the sort of thing that we fear is going to continue around the world. And I don't know what we can do about it, but we don't seem to be doing the right things about it.


FRAYER: You can hear the bells of Notre Dame ringing there behind them.

MARTIN: It is Sunday, and churches around the world are holding memorials and praying for the victims and their families of these attacks in Paris Friday night. We mentioned this mass that's supposed to happen in Paris tonight. What can you tell us about that and other ways that houses of worship are marking this day?

FRAYER: The Archbishop of Paris is holding a memorial mass at Notre Dame tonight with victims' families. We're expecting regular folks to gather outside the church in support of them. I went to another church across town, the American Church of Paris, this morning. And I talked to worshipers there. That congregation is full of Americans and other English speakers who live in Paris but also tourists. Some people said that even though they're on vacation, they felt that this Sunday in particular they wanted to go to church and offer prayers for the victims and their families. The pastor gave a sermon praying for the victims and also for the Muslim community. People are realizing that these attacks were acts of religious extremism by Muslims. And many people are worried about a backlash. Here's the assistant pastor at the American Church of Paris, Michelle Wahila, talking about the power of religion.

MICHELLE WAHILA: Particularly here, we are reflecting on how it can be - it can have power for good, for sure, and hope and that light will pierce the darkness of what is sort of broken in humanity. And that's what we hang onto. And I think that's what most religions hang onto. And that's what - that's the good that exists from what we practice.

FRAYER: She said the American church here has been overwhelmed with emails, phone calls, Facebook messages of support and prayers from around the world.

MARTIN: Reporter Lauren Frayer, live on the streets of Paris. Thanks so much for talking with us, Lauren.

FRAYER: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.