Wagga’s French community is reeling after attacks in Paris left more than one hundred people dead, with initial shock giving way to emotions of despair and anger.
For French-born Anna Adriaenssens, who has lived in Wagga for the past few years, the news of the terror that devastated her home country was unbelievable.
"After what happened in January with the attacks on Charlie Hebdo I just couldn't believe something like this was happening again,” she said.
“I still don’t think it’s sunk in properly, but now I feel so sad and worried for those back home.”
A manhunt is now underway across France for the surviving members of the Islamist group believed to be responsible for the attacks which killed 129 people throughout the capital city’s bars, restaurants, concert hall and sports stadium.
Wagga French language teacher Michel Dignand said his initial shock had given way to feelings of anger towards the culprits.
"It's hard not to feel upset and it's hard not to feel anger at the section of Muslims that are doing this,” he said.
“But we do have to remember that it's a very small proportion of them who have gone to such horribly extreme methods.”
Mr Dignand, who has friends living in Paris, said the overall feeling within Wagga’s French community was one of great sadness.
"People are still shocked and some are quite fearful, as they have relatives over there,” he said.
“Many of the French community are young and scared for their families, but mostly now there's also an overwhelming sadness coming from the community."
After the attacks on France’s satirical paper Charlie Hebdo, which killed 11 people earlier this year, Mr Dignand said danger in France was on people’s minds, though it was still a relatively safe place.
"The reality is that Europe is extremely safe place to travel, particularly France, but I think a greater number of people are becoming a lot more concerned about the possibility of attacks of this nature."
Ms Adriaenssens said despite the events she didn’t think people would associate France with attacks of this nature.
“Paris is a city full of tourists, beautiful art and fine food, not terrorism,” she said. “Now I think people will try and go on with their lives, which is something we all just have to do,” she said.
Though thousands of kilometres away from those suffering in Paris, Ms Adriaenssens said Wagga’s French community was thinking of everyone back home.
“Even though many of us are here in Australia, our hearts are in Paris,” she said.
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