Knife­man ar­rested at Eif­fel Tower ‘wanted to kill sol­dier’: Sources

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A man ar­rested at the Eif­fel Tower after bran­dish­ing a knife in front of tourists and se­cu­rity forces has told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he wanted to kill a sol­dier, sources close to the case told AFP yes­ter­day. The in­truder, who is aged around 19 and has a his­tory of psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems, was ar­rested late on Satur­day at the Paris mon­u­ment after burst­ing past se­cu­rity and shout­ing “Al­lahu Ak­bar” (“God is Great­est”).

Armed sol­diers who are per­ma­nently sta­tioned at the Eif­fel Tower sur­rounded him and or­dered him to drop his weapon, which he did with­out at­tack­ing any­one, one se­cu­rity source said, ask­ing not to be named. In cus­tody, he said he wanted to com­mit “an at­tack against a sol­dier and had been in con­tact with a mem­ber of the ji­hadist group Is­lamic State who en­cour­aged him to take ac­tion,” a sep­a­rate source told AFP.

France has been in a state of emer­gency since Novem­ber 2015 and has seen a string of at­tacks on se­cu­rity forces who have been reg­u­larly tar­geted, par­tic­u­larly those guard­ing key tourist sites. In Fe­bru­ary, a man armed with a ma­chete at­tacked four sol­diers on pa­trol at Paris’s Lou­vre Mu­seum, while in April an­other ex­trem­ist shot and killed a po­lice­man on the Champs El­y­sees. In June, a 40-year-old Al­ge­ria doc­tor­ate stu­dent who had pledged al­le­giance to the Is­lamic State group at­tacked a po­lice­man with a ham­mer out­side Notre Dame cathe­dral. Po­lice had ini­tially treated Satur­day’s Eif­fel Tower in­ci­dent as a crim­i­nal case, but anti-ter­ror prose­cu­tors have since taken over the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. After the ar­rest, po­lice checked the Eif­fel Tower site and called for it to be evac­u­ated at around 00:30, 15 min­utes be­fore it nor­mally closes, a state­ment from the com­pany that runs the mon­u­ment said.

The in­truder was wear­ing a Paris Sain­tGer­main foot­ball shirt. At the time of the in­ci­dent the tower was lit up with the col­ors of the team to wel­come the club’s new world-record sign­ing, Brazil­ian star Ney­mar. The legal source said the man with the knife, a French­man born in the West African state of Mau­ri­ta­nia, had been dis­charged from a psy­chi­atric hospi­tal in July. The tower re­opened yes­ter­day morn­ing as usual at 09:00 am (0700 GMT).

—AP

PARIS: In this Fri­day, June 10, 2016 file photo, French riot po­lice of­fi­cers pa­trol un­der the Eif­fel Tower.

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