French soldier shoots, wounds machete-wielding attacker at Paris Louvre
A French soldier patrolling at the Louvre museum shot and seriously injured a machetewielding attacker on Friday, thrusting security and the terror threat back into the limelight three months before elections.
Police held hundreds of tourists in secure areas of the renowned tourist attraction after the assailant was shot five times around 10:00 am in a public area near one of the museum’s entrances.
The knifeman, who yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great- est”), is in a serious condition. One soldier received a “minor” head wound and has been taken to hospital, security forces said.
Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the incident, which will heap more misery on the city’s struggling tourism sector, was “terrorist in nature.”
It sparked fresh jitters and anger in a country still reeling from a string of terror attacks over the last two years and under a state of emergency since November 2015.
The economy, immigration and security are major issues for voters ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections which had been forecast to confirm the country’s shift right after five years of Socialist rule.
US President Donald Trump tweeted that a “new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART US.”
Witnesses described scenes of panic as shoppers, sight- seers and workers fled the Louvre complex following the incident.
The lucrative Paris tourism industry has been a major casualty of the terror attacks, with visitors canceling or shortening their stays.
Thousands of troops have been deployed to guard the capital, with groups of soldiers carrying automatic rifles a regular sight inside the Louvre and around its sculpture-filled gardens. The Louvre was already suffering from a fall in visitor numbers after the series of attacks in France.
City police chief Michel Cadot told reporters that a man whose behavior was “suspicious” had also been arrested following the attack.
Friday’s incident came on the very day that Paris was submitting its formal bid dossier to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.