Paris knife attacker ‘born in Chechnya’, has no judicial record

A knifeman who killed a man and wounded four other people in a suspected terror attack in central Paris was born in Chechnya and his parents have been taken into custody, a judicial source said on Sunday.

Paris knife attacker 'born in Chechnya', has no judicial record
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb (2L) in a meeting with Chiefs of Staff at The Ministry of Interior in Paris on May 13th. Photo: AFP

The young Frenchman, born in 1997 in the southern Russian republic according to the source, was shot dead by police after carrying out the assault on Saturday evening near the city's main opera house.

“He had no judicial record,” the judicial source told AFP.

“(The attacker) is French, born in Chechnya in 1997. His father and mother were placed in custody Sunday morning.”

But the man was on the so-called “S file” of people suspected of radicalised views who could pose security risks, even though he did not have a criminal record, sources close to the inquiry told AFP on Sunday.

Witnesses said they heard the attacker shout “Allahu akbar” (God is great) as Parisians fled into restaurants and bars after realising another possible terror attack was underway in a country already reeling from a string of jihadist assaults that have killed more than 245 people in the last three years.

“I was taking orders and I saw a young woman trying to get into the restaurant in panic,” Jonathan, a waiter at a Korean restaurant, told AFP.

The woman was bleeding and a young man fended off the attacker who then ran away, he said.

“The attacker entered a shopping street, I saw him with a knife in his hand,” he said. “He looked crazy.”

Milan, 19, said he saw “several people in distress” including a woman with wounds to her neck and leg.

“Firemen were giving her first aid. I heard two, three shots and a policeman told me that the man had been overpowered.”

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “France has once again paid the price in blood but will not give an inch to the enemies of freedom.”

Authorities said a 29-year-old man was killed in the attack and that a terror investigation had been launched. The assailant had no identifying documents on him.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying one of its “soldiers” had carried out the attack, according to the SITE monitoring group, but provided no corroborating proof to back their assertion.

Two of those wounded, a 34-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman, were rushed to hospital in a serious condition but Interior Minister Gerard Collomb later told reporters all the injured would survive.

“I have just seen the person who was most seriously injured, she is better, she is saved,” he said.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said police were on the scene “within five minutes” of the attack and that some nine minutes later the assailant was dead, he added.

“The speed of the response obviously avoided a heavier toll,” he said.

A police source told AFP one officer tried to restrain the attacker with a taser but when that failed a colleague shot the man dead.


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Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro