RECAP: Man with Isis flag attacks Paris police

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected]
RECAP: Man with Isis flag attacks Paris police
Police officers on Thursday morning at the scene of the attack. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

A man armed with a meat cleaver and wearing a fake suicide bomb vest was shot dead on Thursday after attempting to get into a police station in Paris. The incident occurred a year to the day since the Charlie Hebdo massacre.


Main events:

17:30 - While we are no longer live blogging the story of the attack on the Paris police, here's a recap of everything we know so far.

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17:18 - 'Attack revenge for deaths in Syria'

According to a report in L'Express newspaper the man who attacked the police station wanted to avenge the deaths of civilians in Syria.

A source close to the investigation told L'Express that the note found on the man along with the printed Isis emblem, mentioned that he wanted to take revenge on France for causing civilian deaths in Syria.

This has not been confirmed by authorities.

17:00 - What we know of the attack on the police station.

Here's a recap on what we know so far about the attack on the police station in Paris and who was the individual who carried it out.

What we know about attack on police station

16:11 - Aim now is to identify attacker

With the counter-terrorist police taking over the investigation officers will be aiming to identify the man who tried to attack the police with a meat cleaver as soon as possible. They will want to determine whether he acted alone or he was acting under orders or guidance by someone else.

The fact they found an Isis flag printed on a piece of paper does not mean the man had any concrete links with the terror group, but police will want to determine whether he was in contact with any jihadists in Syria or Iraq.

16:06 - Prosecutor confirms Isis emblem found on suspect

Here are more details from a statement sent out by the Paris prosecutor.

"He was found to be in possession of a mobile phone and a piece of paper on which the flag of Daesh was printed, as well as an unequivocal claim handwritten in Arabic," the prosecutor said in a statement, using the Arabic name for Isis.

15:49 - Paper with Isis flag found on suspect

The prosecutor in Paris says investigators found a piece of paper on the suspect that showed the flag of terrorist group Isis. They also found a handwritten claim for the attack on the police station written in Arabic. 

As a result the counter-terrorist police have taken charge of the investigation.

15:43 - Still a huge police presence on the streets of Paris 

15:29 - Counter-terrorism police not yet investigating attack

It appears that French police are treating Thursday's shooting at the police station in Paris as an isolated incident rather than an act of terrorism. 

Prosecutors in Paris have opened an investigation into attempted murder of a person on public duty and have asked the Paris's criminal police to investigate rather that the specialist counter-terror police who investigated the Charlie Hebdo and November attacks.

However things could change as the police investigation continues.

15:22 - Police examine mobile phone

Police are believed to be examining a mobile phone found on the body of the man who tried to get into the police station in the Goutte d'Or. The task of working out his identity may take a while given that he had no identity papers on him.

15:14 - Police cordon reduced

Things are starting to return to normal in the Goutte d'Or with the police reducing the wide cordon around the police station. Businesses that had been told to pull down their shutters are opening up again and residents who live in the streets around the police station are being allowed to return home.

15:00 - 'Everyone is extremely nervous'

A woman who witnessed the shooting has spoken to reporters.

She was visibly shaking still, hours after she saw the man getting shot as she was walking by the police station.

"The police shouted "back up" and he backed up, raised his hands," she told those gathered, including The Local.

"He started to back up and then moved toward them. They fired three times. There was a woman next to them who screamed. Police were shouting. It was shocking."

"They were many people walking by, children, the elderly. Someone was injured. I saw the emergency teams put them in their truck.

"France is becoming too frightened. Everyone is extremely nervous at the moment.

"Apparently the had wires hanging out.... that could've been me, look, my phone charger is sticking out of my purse.

"It's the first time that I saw someone on the ground, shot and killed.

"The police were very aggressive. They told me 'shut your mouth, go home' even though I am a resident and have the right to know what was going on."

14:53 - Witnesses dispute the fact man was armed

Several witnesses interviewed by BFM TV have suggested the man who approached police was not armed.

One woman said: "I was on my way to the post office and there was man and police were shouting at him to get back. He lifted his hands then he stepped towards them and they fired three shots at him.

"People say he was armed but he wasn't at all."

However images from the scene show a butcher's knife lying near the body of the man killed by police. He was also said to be wearing a fake suicide vest which showed a wire protruding from a pouch.

14:43 - Hollande pays tribute to police 

Thursday's incident at the police station in the 18th arrondissement of Paris came not long after President François Hollande had paid tribute to the forces of law and order in a memorial service for those killed in the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

The president said the three police officers killed in January's attacks "died so that we could live in freedom".

A police bodyguard who was guarding the newspaper's editor, Charb, was killed alongside him by brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi and they shot dead another policeman, Ahmed Merabet, as he sprawled on the pavement near Charlie Hebdo's offices.

The next day, a policewoman was killed by jihadist Amedy Coulibaly in the southern suburb of Montrouge, apparently as he was heading to attack a Jewish school.

With France also still grieving after the massacre of 130 people by jihadists in Paris in November, Hollande used his speech to call for greater cooperation between the security services.

"Faced with these adversaries, it is essential that every service -- police, gendarmerie, intelligence, military -- work in perfect harmony, with the greatest transparency, and that they share all the information at their disposal," the president said.

14:34 - Armed police outside every police station

A year ago the man may have found it easier to gain entry to the police station in Paris. But since the Charlie Hebdo attack, which occurred on this very day in 2015, and in which three police officers were killed, armed police have been stationed outside every police station to check people coming in.

14:26 - Goutte d'Or described as 'no go zone'

After the Charlie Hebdo attack exactly one year ago, Fox News famously described the Goutte d'Or - where today's shooting took place as one of several "no go zones" in Paris.

Our reporter Simone Flückiger got an entirely different view from the residents of the Goutte d'Or that she spoke to.

"I’ve lived here for five years, and everybody can go wherever they like," said 30-year-old Zakarya. "When I was in Marseille, on the other hand, I was actually told that I couldn’t go to certain places. But this isn’t the case in this neighbourhood."
Sixty-three-year-old grandmother Fadila said that that La Goutte D'Or was safe, arguing that she even spots tourists passing through. 
"Muslims and Christians live side by side here. It’s not a dangerous neighbourhood," she said. 

14:11 - Not the first time police have been attacked 

While the details around Wednesday's incident remain unclear it has similarities with an attack in December 2014.

French police shot dead a man who attacked them with a knife in a police station in Joué-lès-Tours near the city of Tours while shouting "Allahu Akbar".

The man injured the face of an officer at the entrance to the police station and injured two other before he was shot, the interior ministry said.

14:08 - Police controls in place

14:03 - Attacker remains unidentified

Police are still trying to identify the man who tried to get into the police station in Paris armed with a knife. Their task has been harder by the fact he had no ID papers on him.

14:00 - Image of the police station from Google Street view

13:56 - shops have lowered their shutters

Lydia Quentin, the lead of a local charity told Le Monde newspaper what she heard today:

"I heard about five shots. I stuck my head outside but the police asked me not to go out. It's the only instruction we had. All the shops have complied with the instructions and lowered their shutters.
"For my part, I am safe, stuck inside the association. I will ensure that no member of the association will try to come to the neighbourhood."
13:47 - School children kept inside buildings

Two schools on the Rue de la Goutte d'Or, were the shooting took place,  have been ordered to keep their pupils inside the building while security remains tight. 

13:44 - 'Wire hanging from pouch'

Here's the latest from AFP on fake suicide vest the man was said to have been wearing.

The man had a knife, while under his coat he had a pouch around his torso with a wire hanging from it, but the "apparatus contained no explosives," a judiciary source told AFP.

13:41  - Metro services in the area suspended 

Paris transport chiefs have suspended Metro services that pass through the station Barbes, the closest station to the incident in the Goutte d'Or.

Line four has been suspended between Porte de Cligancourt and Réaumur-Sebastapol, while Line 2 has been suspended between Blanche and Belleville.

13:33 - Images from the scene

13:31 - Goutte d'Or sealed off. Maximum security in place


13:22 - 'Police on edge'

The Local's Oliver Gee is at the police cordon near the police station in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.

"The police are clearly on edge as more and more people come to the area to try to find out what is going on. Officers have raised their guns several times at those who have stepped too close. All officers are holding rifles or pistols. The whole situation is very tense. There are police cordons in all directions.

13:18 - Attacker was wearing "fake bomb vest"

Numerous unconfirmed reports in the French media say the attacker's suicide vest was actually a fake.

13:14 - Here's the last round up from AFP

A man shot dead by police as he tried to attack a police station Thursday on the first anniversary of the jihadist assault on
Charlie Hebdo had a knife and what appeared to be an explosives vest, the government said.

The man was also heard to shout "Allahu Akbar" as he approached the police station in the multi-ethnic neighbourhood in the north of the capital, the interior ministry said.

"On Thursday morning, a man attempted to attack a policeman at the reception of the police station before being hit by shots from the police," said interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet.

"Bomb disposal experts are at the scene working to secure the site," he said, adding that Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve had left for the scene.

News of the attempted attack came after President Francois Hollande addressed New Year's greetings to France's police and gendarmes, and called for greater cooperation between the security services.

The population of the Goutte d'Or district where the incident occurred is predominantly of north African and sub-Saharan African origin.

13:12 - Reports of second man on the run

BFM TV are reporting that a second suspect may be on the run. The Ministry of Interior has neither confirmed nor denied these reports.

13:09 - A photo of the knife

This is an image of the knife believed to have been pulled by the suspect as he tried to enter the police station.

13:04 - Tensions high in Goutte d'Or

The area around the police station in the Goutte d'Or area of Paris, just north of the Gare du Nord, has been sealed off and armed police are on the streets.

The area has a high immigrant population and was famously described by Fox News as one of many "no go zones" in France.

12:57 - 'Armed with a knife and explosives'

France's interior ministry now say the man who tried to attack the police station was armed with a knife and "an apparent explosive vest".

12:55 - Suspect shouted "Allahu Akbar"

The man who attempted to get into a police station in Paris cried "Allahu Akbar", which means "God is great" in Arabic, the government say.  This is often the cry used by jihadists and Islamist terrorists before committing an attack.

12:49 - Residents advised to stay off their balconies

While police try to confirm whether or not the suspect was wearing a bomb vest, residents living near the station in the Goute d'Or area of Paris have been advised to close their windows and stay off their balconies.

12:45 - Bomb team inspects suspect

A New York Times journalist has posted images on Twitter that appear to show a robot inspecting the body of the man shot dead by police. 

12:40 - Latest on incident from AFP

Police shot a man dead Thursday as he was trying to enter a police station in a northern district of Paris that is home to a
large immigrant community, on the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

A witness told AFP he had heard "two or three shots" in the incident that occurred a year to the day of the jihadist attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

12:35 - Was he wearing a bomb vest?

It is unclear whether the incident, which comes on the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, is being considered a terrorist attack.

According to reports the man tried to break through security and get into the station when he was stopped by officers.

The man was then shot dead. Some French media reports suggest he was wearing a suicide bomb vest.


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