Paris refuses to live in fear as crowds gather to visit the city's famed landmark. An Islamic extremist armed with machetes attacked French troops in front of the Louvre Museum on Friday before being shot and detained.
A guard patrols the Louvre museum in Paris as part of "Operation Sentinelle," in which troops patrol streets and protect key sites. (Photo taken December 30, 2016)
Paris' Louvre Museum reopened its doors to art lovers Saturday, just 24 hours after soldiers shot a machete-wielding attacker outside the landmark site.
Crowds formed at the museum's entrance as the doors reopened to visitors at 9:30 a.m. local time (0830 UTC).
As usual, soldiers armed with machine guns patrolled the outside the museum, while Louvre security staff undertook routine bag checks.
On Friday, a 29-year-old Egyptian assailant attacked a group of soldiers outside the Louvre with a pair of machetes, before being foiled and shot up to five times. He is currently in custody and being treated in a Paris hospital, where he reportedly remains in a critical but stable condition.
One of the troops was slightly injured in the attack, but French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday that he expected the soldier to the rejoin his regiment later that evening.
French authorities have not yet formally confirmed the attacker's full name or identity. However, Egyptian media have identified the suspect as Abdallah E-H., who is believed to have lived in the United Arab Emirates. French investigators said they had established yesterday that the assailant had arrived in Paris from Dubai on January 29 on a valid one-month tourist visa.
According to French news agency Agence France-Presse, local investigators are also examining the Twitter account of an Egyptian man of that name, after around a dozen posts were published in Arabic just minutes before the attack. "In the name of Allah ... for our brothers in Syria and fighters across the world," E-H. tweeted, before making reference to the so-called "Islamic State" jihadist group in another tweet a minute later.
A source close to the case reportedly told AFP that the attacker had also rented an expensive apartment near the famed Champs-Elysees Avenue.
Paris police carried out a series of raids across the French capital on Friday evening, including near a street just off the Champs-Elysees Avenue, according to a police union official.
Suspected attacker's father denies son's involvement
On Saturday, the father of the suspected attacker denied his son's involvement. Speaking to Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm, the father said his son "is not a terrorist and has no political affiliation."
His account also contradicted that of the French authorities. The father claimed his son had travelled to France from the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, on December 26 for work and was due to return Saturday.
France still reeling from terror threat
French President Francois Hollande said Friday there was "no doubt" that the attack was of a "terrorist nature," and insisted the incident showed the need for increased security measures amid a string of terror attacks. Over the past two years, Islamist attacks in France have left more than 200 people dead.
The French capital's lucrative tourism industry has been badly affected by the series of attacks. The Louvre itself has seen annual visitor numbers slide by some two million since 2015 to 7.3 million. Paris hotels have also reported that many visitors have been cancelling or shortening their stays.
Security has been a key theme ahead of France's upcoming elections in April and May. Two presidential hopefuls, conservative Francois Fillon and the far-right's Marine Le Pen, are pushing a tough line on immigration and Islam, a popular position according to pollsters.
dm/jlw (AFP, dpa)