France Opens Terrorism Inquiry After Killing at Police Station

2021-04-24 00:21:34

PARIS — The French authorities opened a terrorism investigation on Friday after a knife-wielding assailant killed a police officer at a station about 25 miles southwest of Paris earlier than being shot lifeless.

France continues to be on excessive alert for terrorism after a string of assaults final fall, and Jean Castex, the prime minister, and Gérald Darmanin, the inside minister, rapidly rushed to the scene of the assault in Rambouillet, a quiet, prosperous city.

“She was a policewoman,” President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter after the assault, figuring out the sufferer solely as Stéphanie. “We are going to yield nothing within the struggle in opposition to Islamist terrorism,” Mr. Macron added.

Mr. Castex informed reporters that the officer, who carried out administrative duties on the station, had been “cravenly” killed in “dramatic” circumstances, however he didn’t elaborate.

Jean-François Ricard, France’s prime antiterrorism prosecutor, informed reporters on the scene that his workplace had opened an investigation however supplied few particulars, saying solely that the assailant appeared to have scouted the world beforehand.

Mr. Ricard didn’t affirm French information experiences that the attacker had shouted “Allahu akbar,” or “God is nice” in Arabic, throughout the assault, saying solely that the remarks he had made throughout the stabbing — in addition to the goal and the weapon used — pointed to a terrorist motive.

Linda Kebbab, a consultant for Unité SGP Police Pressure Ouvrière, considered one of France’s essential police unions, stated the sufferer was close to the doorway to the police station shortly earlier than 2:30 p.m. when the assailant stabbed her within the neck.

“It’s a horrible shock,” Aurore Bergé, a lawmaker representing the Yvelines area, which is residence to Rambouillet, for President Emmanuel Macron’s celebration, stated on Twitter.

France has been hit onerous by dozens of terrorist assaults over the previous decade. The latest high-profile episodes got here in October, when a historical past instructor was beheaded after exhibiting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a category on free speech in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, and three individuals had been stabbed to loss of life at a basilica in Good.

The stabbing on Friday happened as French lawmakers wrapped up work on a invoice pushed by Mr. Macron’s authorities to counter Islamist extremism in France. The assault is prone to additional amplify the prominence of the problem throughout the presidential election marketing campaign subsequent 12 months.

After a wave of large-scale assaults in 2015 and 2016 that killed a whole bunch, France has confronted smaller spikes of Islamist terrorism perpetrated by remoted, self-radicalized people whom intelligence providers have discovered onerous to trace.

“At this time we have to do a greater job following the underside of the spectrum: these people who will not be perceived as essentially the most harmful, however who can take motion with none forewarning,” Mr. Macron informed the newspaper Le Figaro this week.

Valérie Pécresse, a prime regional official, stated the assailant had struck at “an emblem of France,” a city within the countryside that she described as “so peaceable.”

Ms. Pécresse stated the police station in Rambouillet was properly protected and that entry inside was restricted. The attacker, she stated, appeared to have waited for the sufferer to briefly exit the constructing.

French safety forces have been usually been focused by terrorists.

In 2016, an Islamic State assailant fatally stabbed an off-duty police officer and his companion, a police worker, at their residence. In 2017, a gunman killed a veteran police officer on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. And in 2019, in one of many worst assaults on the French police thus far, a radicalized police worker stabbed 4 of his colleagues to loss of life on the Paris police headquarters.

The assault on Friday was adopted by widespread condemnation, particularly amongst Mr. Macron’s political opponents on the suitable and far-right, who’ve ramped up criticism of his safety document earlier than France’s 2022 presidential elections and repeatedly blame him for doing too little to guard the police and being too gentle on crime.

Marine Le Pen, the chief of the far-right Nationwide Rally celebration and Mr. Macron’s essential rival in subsequent 12 months’s election, informed the BFMTV information channel that Mr. Macron’s administration was synonymous with “chaos.”

“The safety scenario in our nation has by no means been so important,” Ms. Le Pen stated. “I ponder if France has turn into the nation most affected by terrorism in Europe. Does it hassle the federal government? I’m not even certain.”

Fixed Méheut and Norimitsu Onishi contributed reporting.

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