Man Arrested After Knife Attack in Paris, 7 Wounded

Melanie Sun
By Melanie Sun
September 10, 2018World News

PARIS—French police detained a man who wounded seven people in a knife attack in downtown Paris late on Sept. 9, a judicial source said early the day after.

The attack happened just after 11 p.m. local time on the banks of a Canal de l’Ourcq in northeast Paris, AFP reported.

A cinema security guard said that he saw the assailant being chased by two men who had intervened when the assailant attacked three people in front of a cinema.

“He had an iron bar in his hand which he threw at the men chasing him, then he took out a knife,” the guard told AFP.

Youssef Najah, 28, who also witnessed the incident, told AFP that he saw the assailant fleeing from a crowd of people. The suspect was wielding a 10-11 inch long knife and an iron bar.

“There were around 20 people chasing him. They started throwing Pétanque balls at him,” Najah told the AFP. Pétanque, also known as boules, is a popular sport played in France.

“Around four or five balls hit him in the head, but they weren’t able to stop him,” he added.

Witnesses both say that the assailant the attempted to lose the crowd by hiding in an alleyway. Unfortunately, the British tourists who became victims of the attack when the assailant “tried to hide behind” them and ended up attacking them.

The witnesses say they had tried to warn the tourists that the suspicious man was armed. “We said to them: ‘Watch out, he has a knife.’ But they didn’t react,” they told AFP.

Four of the victims are in critical condition and an investigation has now been launched for attempted murder, a judicial source told AFP.

A source close to the investigation told AFP that the assailant is believed to be an Afghan national and there are no initial indications that the attack was linked to terrorism. The attacker appeared to target “strangers in the street,” the source told AFP.

“Nothing at this stage shows signs of a terrorist nature in these assaults.”

The attack is the latest of multiple knife attacks seen in France over the last few months as the country remains on high alert since the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Just last month, two similar attacks shook France.

A 19-year-old Afghan asylum seeker was apprehended and charged for aggravated assault after using a knife to attack four people on Aug. 13 in the south-western French city of Perigueux, reported RFI.

In another incident, one man, 36, who had been on a terror watch list since 2016 for expressing extremist views, stabbed his mother and sister to death on Aug. 23, before being shot by police.

ISIS was quick to claim responsibility for the attack but without any evidence of an association. Given ISIS’s history of opportunistic claims, French officials said that the incident was not likely terrorism-related and cited a psychiatric reason or a family dispute.

“It appears the criminal had serious psychiatric problems,” French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told local media. “He was known (to police) for advocating terrorism but it seems he was a disturbed person rather than someone who could respond to calls for action from terrorist organisations like Daesh,” Collomb said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Radio Free Europe reported that the assailant’s attack on his family came just an hour after the release of an audio recording by a man claiming to be ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

France 24 jihadist expert Wassim Nasr said that there had been incidents in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other countries of people killing their family members when they tried to stop them from joining ISIS. Nasr explained to France 24 that this was possible due to the fact that some jihadist groups, in particular ISIS, consider Muslims living in the West to be traitors.

More than 240 people have been killed by Islamic extremists in France since 2015, reported AFP.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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