French Soldier Shoots Machete-Wielding Man At The Louvre
RFE/RL February 03, 2017
A French soldier shot and wounded a man armed with a machete who was trying to enter the Louvre museum in Paris in what the government said appeared to have been a terrorist attack.
Police said the man shouted "God is greatest" in Arabic and lashed out at police and soldiers before being shot near the museum's shopping mall in the February 3 incident.
Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said during a visit to Bayeux in Normandy, "It appears to be an attempted attack of a terrorist nature."
Police chief Michel Cadot said the suspected attacker was shot five times and was seriously wounded. He said another soldier was slightly wounded.
Cadot said the suspect was also carrying two backpacks, which were later found not to contain any explosives.
A terrorism inquiry has been opened, the public prosecutor said in a statement.
The suspect was believed to have acted alone but a second person was detained after displaying "suspicious behavior," he said.
Authorities said there were about 1,250 visitors in the museum at the time of the incident but there was no panic. The museum was closed following the incident and authorities did not say when it would reopen.
The attack came as Paris prepared to submit its official bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics with a launch show at the Eiffel Tower later in the afternoon on February 3 .
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the identity and nationality of the attacker remain unknown. Interior Minister Bruno le Roux abandoned a trip to the Dordogne region to return to Paris.
The museum in central Paris is one of France's biggest tourist attractions, receiving 7.3 million visitors last year.
Reacting to the incident, U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that the United States must "get smart."
Trump said the attacker was a "radical Islamic terrorist," using a term he has used previously to describe such attackers.
"A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.," Trump tweeted.
France is less than three months away from a presidential election in which security and fears of terrorism are among the key issues.
Patrolling soldiers have become a common sight around Paris since a state of emergency was declared across France in November 2015.
France has suffered a string of attacks beginning in January 2015, when gunmen killed 17 people in a spree that included attacks on the Paris offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which had published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and a Jewish supermarket in the capital.
On November 13, 2015, gunmen and suicide bombers from the Islamic State militant group attacked bars, restaurants, a concert hall, and the national stadium in Paris, killing 130 people.
In July, a Tunisian extremist rammed a lorry through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice on France's south coast, killing 86 people.
And in November, French police broke up an alleged jihadist terror ring that was allegedly planning to attack Paris.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, BBC, and RTL
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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