Anti-terrorism probe launched after French police officer killed in knife assault

2021-04-24 13:14:37

Police on the scene rapidly intervened and killed the attacker, Prime Minister Jean Castex advised journalists on Friday, referring to the incident in Rambouillet as a “terrorist assault.”

Castex mentioned that “our dedication to combat terrorism in all its form is unbroken, greater than ever.”

French anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard mentioned, “The way in which this crime was dedicated” and “the phrases mentioned by the attacker throughout the occasion” led the anti-terror workplace to tackle the investigation.

The attacker had scouted the placement earlier than launching the stabbing, Castex mentioned. And witnesses heard the attacker shout “Allahu Akhbar,” in accordance with a supply near the investigation.

Three folks, believed to be members of the attacker’s shut circle, have been taken into custody, a French judicial supply advised CNN.

French police officials and firefighters at the station in Rambouillet.

Castex and French Inside Minister Gérald Darmanin mentioned they had been on their technique to Rambouillet, a city of 25,000 folks 35 miles southwest of the capital.

Earlier, Castex shared his condolences with the sufferer’s kinfolk, saying they “have the help of the entire nation” in a tweet.
Terror in France reignites a national debate on the right to offend

“The Republic has simply misplaced considered one of its heroines, in an infinitely coward barbaric gesture,” he added.

Native consultant Aurore Bergé tweeted her condolences, saying that “this can be a horrible shock. For Rambouillet. For the Yvelines, grieving once more,” referring to a deadly stabbing of a police commander and his associate, a police administrator, in 2016.

Reacting to the assault, French President Emmanuel Macron mentioned France wouldn’t surrender the combat in opposition to terrorism.

“She was a police officer. Stephanie has been killed in her police station in Rambouillet, on the already wounded land of the Yvelines. The Nation stands by the facet of her household, her colleagues, and regulation enforcement officers. We won’t surrender the combat in opposition to Islamist terrorism,” Macron mentioned on Twitter.

Assaults intensify debate over French secularism

The assault comes amid an intensive public debate over France’s mannequin of secularism, which has wracked the nation in current months and is prone to be a key difficulty within the presidential election subsequent yr.

Generally known as “laïcité” in French, the separation of church and state is the framework of the nation’s political system and is deeply ingrained in French tradition.

French lawmakers have been engaged on contentious laws aimed toward combating Islamist radicalism and reinforcing the nation’s precept of laïcité, as President Macron makes an attempt to enchantment to right-wing voters.

However secularism is divisive in a rustic as numerous as France, which is residence to five million Muslims — a lot of whom dwell in poorer areas and are sometimes marginalized in politics and media. The overwhelming majority of France’s Muslims don’t help Islamic extremism, but nonetheless face unfair stereotypes, consultants say.

A teacher is beheaded, and France's war over secularism, freedom of speech and religious equality reignites

Critics say the invoice, which incorporates measures that might ban head scarves and different overt non secular clothes or symbols, dangers discriminating in opposition to Muslims.

The invoice is presently being scrutinized by a cross-party parliamentary fee.

The broader debate over laïcité and whether or not it really works in fashionable, multicultural France has been intensified by current terror assaults.

On October 29, three folks had been stabbed to dying at a church within the French metropolis of Good. A 21-year-old Tunisian nationwide was charged of their homicide, and President Macron mentioned the nation was beneath assault by “Islamist and terrorist insanity.”
Prosecutors mentioned the suspect had photographs on his cellphone of the person who beheaded a instructor close to Paris 13 days earlier, probably indicating a frequent motive.
The center faculty instructor, Samuel Paty, was killed by an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin who, earlier than the assault, mentioned in a put up on social media that he needed to punish Paty for exhibiting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in his class.

Macron subsequently issued a powerful protection of the precept of freedom of speech and mentioned France wouldn’t “surrender” the caricatures, which had been printed in satirical journal Charlie Hebdo in 2012.

The assaults are the newest in a string of violence linked to the cartoon in France over a number of years. In 2015, 17 folks had been killed in a terror assault that started in Charlie Hebdo’s places of work in Paris and carried on for 3 days.

The caricatures are thought-about blasphemous in Islam, and Macron’s feedback triggered widespread anger in lots of Muslim-majority nations final yr.

Antonella Francini contributed to this report from Paris.

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