A group of men dressed in black ski masks, bulletproof vests, and combat uniforms stormed a French hotel frequented by Hollywood heavyweights and journalists attending the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival, spurring local law enforcement into action and scaring star-studded guests.
— Mete Sohtaoğlu (@metesohtaoglu) May 14, 2016
“It was pretty scary,” a bystander said. “The fact that men appeared to be dressed like an ISIS-like militia group was quite shocking.”
Witnesses said six men cruised in on a fast-moving boat, flying a large black flag, and rushed the legendary Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc in what was reportedly a publicity stunt put on by Paris-based internet company, Oraxy.
“It was definitely not planned to look like a terrorist attack,” an unnamed spokesman for the company said, according the Hollywood Reporter. “The owners [of Oraxy] feel very badly about it. It wasn’t meant to frighten people.”
On its website, Oraxy is described as “the world’s first private global marketplace reserved exclusively for UHNWI, which translates to Ultra High Net Worth Individuals.
The Cannes Film Festival, which began Wednesday, is being held in Cannes, France. The country’s terrorist threat level remains “very high,” says French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve — six months after suffering the worst attack on French soil since WWII.
“We are doing everything to protect the French people, but the threat is still very high,” Cazeneuve said, just hours before Oraxy pulled off its half-baked PR stunt.
“It was not a terrorist attack,” said a spokesman for the France National Police. “It was a communication effort and publicity for an Internet site.”
The boat was seen whizzing by large yachts owned by filmmaker and Steven Spielberg and actor Ronald Perelman.
One eyewitness described the frantic scene, saying, “We were caught off guard. And then someone screamed and people jumped out of their chairs and started moving quickly to the swimming pool area.”
The Cannes Film Festival draws tens of thousands of tourists and Hollywood elites to France each year, as nearly 100 feature films are shown and judged in a headline-making competition.