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Police open fire at Paris train station after woman 'made threats'

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The Local France/AFP - [email protected]
Police open fire at Paris train station after woman 'made threats'
French police officers stand at the entrance of a metro station after a woman making threats on an RER train was shot and wounded by police, in Paris on October 31, 2023. Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

French police on Tuesday shot and seriously wounded an unarmed woman who was making threats at a train station in Paris during morning rush hour.

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Two police officers opened fire at around 9.20am at the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand station in the 13th arrondissement of Paris on Tuesday morning.

 

French media reported that the woman boarded the RER C train in Val-de-Marne earlier in the morning and made threats, before police halted the train at the Bibliothèque François-Mitterand station.

Officers managed to "isolate" the woman at the Bibliotheque Francois Mitterrand station on the capital's south bank which was evacuated, a police source told AFP.

They ordered her to sit on the ground and stop moving, Paris police chief Laurent Nunez told reporters.

But instead, he said, she moved towards them and ignored an order to show her hands.

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Two police officers then fired eight rounds at the woman, inflicting a life-threatening injury to her abdomen, the prosecutor's office said. It had earlier said that one officer had fired only one shot.

No explosives or other weapons were found on the woman who was taken to hospital, the police source said.

Nunez said the woman, a French national, had in July 2021 been arrested by a military patrol, deployed to beef up security amid attack fears, when she threatened the soldiers with a screwdriver and "made remarks with a religious content".

She was detained briefly, and then committed to psychiatric care, he said.

She was never on a radicalisation watchlist, Nunez said, contrary to what two police sources had claimed earlier.

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Government spokesman Olivier Véran said that there had been "at least three" calls from passengers to rail operator SNCF, which in turn alerted police.

"Police, evaluating the situation to be dangerous, opened fire," he told reporters.

Footage from the officers' bodycams and from CCTV at the station would help establish the facts of the case precisely, he said.

Véran said that the woman had a previous conviction for threatening patrolling soldiers. There were questions concerning her mental health, he said.

"We will know more in the coming hours," Véran said.

Police said that an investigation has been opened into "threats, death threats and intimidation of a public official to prevent him from carrying out his duties".

A separate investigation has also been opened by the police watchdog the IGPN, as is standard when an officer discharged a weapon in a public place, to investigate whether the use of force was appropriate.

The station - which also serves Metro Line 14 - was closed and traffic halted along the RER C line for most of the day. 

France has been on the highest level or terror alert ever since October 13th, when a school in Arras was hit by an apparently Islamist-inspired terror attack in which a teacher was killed and two other members of staff wounded. 

Many in France, which has large Muslim and Jewish populations, also fear repercussions from the October 7th attack by Hamas on Israel and the Israeli retaliation in Gaza.

The country has also seen a string of bomb hoaxes targeted at airports which led to more than 130 flights being cancelled last week as dozens of airports were evacuated. 

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