Paris police shoot would-be attacker outside Notre Dame | News | DW | 06.06.2017
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Paris police shoot would-be attacker outside Notre Dame

French authorities say the man shouted "this is for Syria" as he assaulted a police officer with a hammer outside Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris prosecutors have opened a terrorism investigation into the incident.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the suspect wounded one policeman before he was shot and injured by other officers.

"His colleagues reacted with composure...and fired," Collomb told reporters gathered near the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris.

He added that the alleged attacker appeared to have acted alone. He was carrying kitchen knives and the identification card of a 40-year-old Algerian who was a doctoral student in information science at a university in the east of France. Authorities were checking whether the document was authentic.

The injured police officer and the assailant were taken to the hospital.

The Paris prosecutor's office announced it had opened a counterterrorism investigation into the incident.

Collomb said a special security meeting scheduled to take place on Wednesday would consider new counterterrorism measures. France is under a state of emergency following a string of terror attacks since 2015. The government of newly elected President Emmanuel Macron is expected to ask parliament to extend the measure from its current expiration date, July 15, until November 1.

Police cordon off an area around Notre Dame

Police cordoned off a wide area around the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, visited by millions of tourists each year

Police sealed off the area around the world-famous cathedral following the altercation on Tuesday afternoon. Hundreds of people were evacuated from the esplanade on the banks of the River Seine, while visitors inside the church were told to stay put until the security operation was over. 

Pictures uploaded to social media showed people sitting in the pews with their hands in the air, apparently at the request of police. One of those stuck inside was former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nancy Soderberg.

"It was really scary, we had no idea if there were any accomplices inside," she told the Associated Press.

 

It was the latest of several attacks targeting security officials in France. In April, an attacker shot and killed a policeman on Paris's Champs-Elysees avenue. Similarly a soldier on patrol was attacked outside the Louvre museum in February, and another was targeted at Orly airport in March. More than 230 people have been killed in terror attacks across the country since 2015.

nm/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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