Teacher be­headed in France; cops kill sus­pect

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Internatio­nal -

PARIS — For the sec­ond time in three weeks, ter­ror struck France on Fri­day, this time with the grue­some be­head­ing of a his­tory teacher in a street in a Paris sub­urb. The sus­pected at­tacker was shot and killed by po­lice.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron de­nounced what he called an “Is­lamist ter­ror­ist at­tack” and urged the na­tion to stand united against ex­trem­ism. The teacher had dis­cussed car­i­ca­tures of Is­lam’s Prophet Muham­mad with his class, au­thor­i­ties said.

The French anti- ter­ror­ism pros­e­cu­tor opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion for mur­der with a sus­pected ter­ror­ist mo­tive. Four peo­ple, one a mi­nor, were de­tained hours later, the of­fice of anti- ter­ror pros­e­cu­tor Jean- Fran­cois Ri­card said with­out elab­o­rat­ing. Po­lice typ­i­cally fan out to find fam­ily and friends of po­ten­tial sus­pects in ter­ror cases.

Mr. Macron vis­ited the school where the teacher worked in the town of Con­flan­sSaint- Hon­orine and met with staff af­ter the slay­ing. An As­so­ci­ated Press re­porter saw three am­bu­lances at the scene, and heav­ily armed po­lice sur­round­ing the area and po­lice vans lin­ing leafy nearby streets.

“One of our com­pa­tri­ots was mur­dered to­day be­cause he taught ... the free­dom of ex­pres­sion, the free­dom to be­lieve or not be­lieve,” Mr. Macron said.

He said the at­tack shouldn’t di­vide France be­cause that’s what the ex­trem­ists want. “We must stand all to­gether as ci­ti­zens,” he said.

The in­ci­dent came as Mr. Macron’s gov­ern­ment works on a bill to ad­dress Is­lamist rad­i­cals who au­thor­i­ties claim are cre­at­ing a par­al­lel so­ci­ety out­side the val­ues of the French Repub­lic. France has the largest Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion in West­ern Europe with up to 5 mil­lion mem­bers, and Is­lam is the coun­try’s No. 2 re­li­gion.

A po­lice of­fi­cial said the sus­pect, armed with a knife and an air­soft gun — which fires plas­tic pel­lets — was shot dead about 600 yards from where the male teacher was killed af­ter he failed to re­spond to or­ders to put down his arms, and acted in a threat­en­ing man­ner.

The teacher had re­ceived threats af­ter open­ing a dis­cus­sion “for a de­bate” about the car­i­ca­tures about 10 days ago, the po­lice of­fi­cial told The As­so­ci­ated Press. The par­ent of a stu­dent had filed a com­plaint against the teacher, an­other po­lice of­fi­cial said, adding that the sus­pected killer did not have a child at the school.

An ID card was found at the scene but po­lice were ver­i­fy­ing the iden­tity, the po­lice of­fi­cial said. French me­dia re­ported that the sus­pect w a s a n 1 8 - y e a r - o l d Chechen, born in Moscow. That in­for­ma­tion could not be im­me­di­ately con­firmed.

France has seen oc­ca­sional vi­o­lence in­volv­ing its Chechen com­mu­nity in re­cent months, in the Di­jon re­gion, the Mediter­ranean city of Nice, and the west­ern town of Saint- Dizier, be­lieved linked to lo­cal crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

It was not known what link, if any, the at­tacker might have with the teacher or whether he had ac­com­plices. Po­lice were fan­ning out on searches of homes and po­ten­tial fam­ily and friends of the man in ques­tion, the po­lice of­fi­cial said.

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