There is fear among France’s disco-goers. Since the beginning of April, unknown persons have been carrying out mysterious attacks with syringes or needles in nightclubs in different parts of the country. Those affected then suffer from nausea and dizziness, among other things. Who and what motives are behind the attacks, which mostly affect women, is completely unclear.
The victims report that they suddenly suffered from nausea, dizziness and a sharp pain during or after a visit to a disco. They later discovered a red dot on her skin surrounded by a ring of bruises that appeared to be a puncture site.
Eloise Cornut, 21, was also the victim of such an attack this month in Nantes, western France. When she came home from dancing, she suffered from “cold sweats, nausea, chills and dizziness,” says the aspiring beautician. Cornut was better the next day, but a colleague discovered a needle puncture on the back of her arm.
It was then that the young woman, who claims to neither drink alcohol nor take drugs, realized that the spot on her arm must have come from her night at the disco. Cornut’s colleagues urged her to report the matter to the police and get a blood test. “Now I have to wait five weeks before I can get an HIV test,” says Cornut. “It totally stresses me out.”
Investigators say that around 60 such cases have been reported to the police since the beginning of April. The actual number of attacks is probably much higher. According to prosecutors, around 45 cases were reported in Nantes alone. Advertisements were also placed in the Brittany city of Rennes and in the south and south-west of the country. No one has been arrested so far, prosecutor Renaud Gaudeul told the AFP news agency.
No drugs or poisons detectable
No gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), also known as liquid ecstasy or rape drug, was found in the blood of those affected because the drug was repeatedly mixed into the drink of rape victims before the crime. Other drugs and poisons were also not found in the blood of the victims, says Gaudeul.
However, experts emphasize that GHB is broken down quickly by the body and within hours no traces of it can be detected in the blood. Police sources say the needle attacks were sometimes followed by sexual assault, other times not.
Roanne, a picturesque town in the Loire Valley, was not spared from the attacks. An 18-year-old, who declined to be named, told AFP that a man grabbed her buttocks while she was going to the bathroom with a friend at a birthday party at a club.
“When I got home, I looked at myself in the mirror and there was a big bruise with a red dot on my right buttock.” The teenager later learned from her friends that a man stared at her in the disco, ” like he was waiting for something to happen to me”.
Because of the alleged puncture, the young woman received HIV and hepatitis prophylaxis treatment. Roanne Police are also investigating a man in his 20s who suffered a needle attack at the same nightclub that night.
Such attacks are now also being reported from music festivals such as the Printemps de Bourges. “We don’t know if they use syringes or simple needles,” says the chief of staff of the prefecture of the Cher department, where Bourges is located.
The incidents spoil the celebration mood. The “sick and perverse” needle attacks caused “hysteria” among young people, says Thierry Fontaine of the hospitality association UMIH. After the Corona crisis, this means new revenue shortfalls for France’s nightclubs. (AFP)