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TERRORISM

Woman charged over supermarket boxcutter attack in southern France

A young woman was charged Tuesday with attempted murder and advocating terrorism, after she injured two people with a boxcutter in a supermarket in southeast France at the weekend.

Woman charged over supermarket boxcutter attack in southern France
A member of the French Forensic police walk outside the grounds of a supermarket where two people were injured when a woman shouting "Allah akbar" (God is greatest) attacked two people with a boxcutte
Shouting “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest), the 24-year-old woman struck a customer waiting at the checkout, as well as a cashier who tried to intervene on Sunday morning at a supermarket in Seyne-sur-Mer, near the Mediterranean port of Toulon.
   
Both victims were taken to hospital, but their wounds were not life-threatening.
   
The assailant, who did not have a police record, was overpowered by other people in the supermarket and taken into custody.
   
France has been on high alert following a string of jihadist attacks since early 2015, often by people who have become radicalised or claim to have acted in the name of the Islamic State group.
 
Photo: AFP
   
According to witnesses, the woman claimed to be “Allah's fiancee”. And the Toulon prosecutor's office said Tuesday that she had had trouble explaining her motive for the attack, which she had apparently decided on earlier that morning.
   
“Several witnesses report that she had said that Allah told her to do it, that they were all non-believers and that she wanted police to kill her,” the prosecutor's office said.
 
Local prosecutor Bernard Marchal had told AFP on Sunday that “it appears to be an isolated case by a person with known psychological problems,” but added that “that doesn't exclude the possibility that she may have been radicalised.”
   
The Paris prosecutor, who deals with terrorism cases, is not taking the case, Marchal said.
   
More than 240 people have been killed in jihadist attacks since the massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris in January 2015.
 
Last month a knifeman shouting “Allahu akbar” killed one person and wounded four others during a Saturday night attack in a bustling Paris neighbourhood.

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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.

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