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PARIS — This city under siege was determined to go about its business — with defiance.
Less than 24 hours after eight attackers killed at least 127 people in a bloody spree through the French capital, Paris was in mourning — but determined to carry on.
“I’m very sad — I have a lot of rage and hatred,” said Maurice Mellul. He came to lay flowers outside the Bataclan nightclub, where gunmen opened fire and killed dozens of concert-goers in the deadliest of six separate incidents.
Mellul, 24, has gone to that venue many times — a fixture in this neighborhood, which also suffered a blow in January when Islamist extremists attacked the nearby offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. "It's the second attack in months," he said shaking his head. “It’s so bizarre.”
Mellul said he wasn’t surprised to hear that ISIS may have been behind the attack but insisted he was determined to continue going about his everyday life.
"We need to continue our lives, we can’t stay inside,” he told NBC News. "We must continue, despite tragic events, we must continue our lives to fight this."
France has declared three days of national mourning — along with a state of emergency in wake of Friday’s attacks. Paris also has mobilized scores of extra security and banned all gatherings in wake of the massacres.
That didn’t stop a steady stream of emotional Parisians coming to lay flowers at Place de la Republique, a prominent monument which was the rallying point for solidarity protests following the deadly Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Posters from those January demonstrations were still affixed on the monument Saturday — and below them a memorial to this latest terror spree was growing.
One woman cried as she laid a bouquet with a handwritten note.
“France is strong,” read her message. “We are not scared of this band of cowards."
Police walked through those gathered in front of the monument, gently urging them to disperse and keep moving.
Laura, a 23-year-old stylist, told NBC News she was shocked and still struggling to comprehend what had happened as she stood shell-shocked in front of Place de la Republique.
“We came to try to process it,” she said with tears in her eyes. “It’s heavy.”
Laura, who lives in the neighborhood and who would only give one name, admitted she’s scared because of what had transpired but doesn’t think her life or the city she loves will be transformed by terror.
“It won’t change,” Laura added. “It didn’t change in January and it won’t change now."
That sentiment was evident in cafes just a few hundred feet from Bataclan, which were filled with locals having beer or coffee as camera crews streamed by.
Parisians were out and about doing their shopping, strolling with their children and walking dogs throughout the city.
Valerio Geraci lives just a few hundred feet from the concert hall where the most carnage was wrought. The 27-year-old photographer told NBC News he was home when he heard explosions — then watched the chaos unfold on TV.
He, too, noted the proximity of this attack to the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a second blow to his lively neighborhood.
“I don’t think I will live differently,” he said. “I will just try to fight with my fear.”