SHARE
COPY LINK

TERRORISM

Paris: French police shoot attacker armed with hammer at Notre-Dame Cathedral

French police shot and injured a man who attacked an officer with a hammer outside the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Tuesday, while shouting "this is for Syria". The area was cordoned off and hundreds were kept locked inside the cathedral before police declared the situation was under control.

Paris: French police shoot attacker armed with hammer at Notre-Dame Cathedral
File Photo: AFP

The man, who was armed with a hammer and two knives, shouted “this is for Syria” attacked an officer who was on patrol outside one of the French capital's most visited tourist spots.

After landing a blow on the officer another policeman responded by firing twice at the attacker, who was left injured and lying on the ground. He was later taken to hospital. The policeman sustained minor injuries.

The suspect later claimed to be a “soldier of the caliphate” of the Islamic State group, according to a source close to the investigation.

Counter-terrorism investigators have taken charge of the probe.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the man had shouted “this is for Syria” as he lunged at the officer.

He said the man had also been carrying “kitchen knives” and was found in possession of a card identifying him as an Algerian student.

The shooting prompted scenes of panic at the site that welcomes some 13 million tourists a year. At around 17.30 authorities said the situation was under control. 

Several metro stations around the area were closed. 

A witness told AFP he heard someone “shout very loudly”.

“Then there was a crowd surge and people panicked. I heard two shots and saw a man lying on the ground in a pool of blood,” he said.

 

A witness named David Rahul Matreau told BFM TV: ” I heard two shots and then cries of panic. I looked out and see people fleeing. Then I saw a man on the ground with police standing around him.

“There were a lot of tourists there but in a matter of minutes the area outside Notre-Dame was completely cleared,” he added.

Some 900 visitors were kept locked inside the cathedral with police not allowing them to leave for their own safety. 

Pictures on social media from inside the cathedral showed people sitting down with their hands in the air apparently at the request of police.

 

The area around the historic site has been cleared off people and cordoned off with people advised to stay away from the area.

 

Initial reports suggest police believe the attacker was acting alone, but a security operation is underway to ensure he had no accomplices.

The motive of the man armed with the hammer is unknown but the incident comes as France, like much of Europe is on high alert for terrorism after a spate of recent attacks. 

French police have been targeted numerous times by jihadists in recent years including on the symbolic Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, just days before the first round of the presidential election, when an officer was shot dead.

Notre-Dame was the subject of a failed terrorist attack last September when a car filled with gas canisters was left in a side street.

However attempts to set the car alight failed and three women were arrested in connection with the failed attack.

READ ALSO:

 

 

TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

SHOW COMMENTS