Paris police kill man with knife, fake explosive vest
Police shot and killed a man wearing a fake explosive vest who threatened them with a butcher knife at a Paris police station Thursday, a year almost to the minute after two Islamic extremists burst into the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 11 people and unleashing a bloody 12 months in the French capital.
The Paris prosecutor’s anti-terrorism unit opened an investigation after police found a cellphone, a piece of paper with an emblem of the Islamic State group, and “an unequivocal written claim of responsibility in Arabic” with the man’s body, the prosecutor’s office said. It did not provide details about the claim.
France has been under a state of emergency since a series of attacks claimed by the Islamic State group killed 130 people in Paris on Nov. 13, and tensions increased this week as the anniversary of the January attacks approached. Soldiers were posted in front of schools and security forces were more present than usual amid a series of tributes to the dead.
Officials said the man shot to death Thursday threatened officers at the entrance of a police station near the Montmartre neighbourhood, home to the Sacre Coeur Cathedral. Just moments before, French President Francois Hollande, speaking in a different location, paid respects to officers fallen in the line of duty.
The man at the police station is believed to have cried out “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.” He has not been identified, and Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told The Associated Press that police do not believe anyone else was involved.
Alexis Mukenge, who saw the shooting from inside another building, told the network iTele that police told the man, “Stop. Move back.” Mukenge said officers fired twice and the man immediately dropped to the ground.
Video shot from a window above the station and provided to The Associated Press shows the man’s body lying on the ground in a pool of blood, a bomb-detecting robot nearby.
Nora Borrias was unable to get to her home in the neighbourhood because of the barricades. Shaken by the incident, she said “it’s like the Charlie Hebdo affair isn’t over.”
Hollande had said earlier that a “terrorist threat” would continue to weigh on France. The government has announced new measures extending police powers to allow officers to use their weapons to “neutralize someone who has just committed one or several murders and is likely to repeat these crimes.”