Man shot after ‘terror’ attack at Louvre
PARIS: Louvre visitors learned by loudspeaker announcement of an attempted attack on the museum yesterday. There was no panic, although children cried as guards directed people to sit close together, away from windows.
A French soldier shot and wounded a man armed with a machete and carrying two bags on his back as he tried to enter a mall at the museum in what the government said appeared to have been a terrorist attack.
The man, who police claim had shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) as he rushed towards the museum, was seriously wounded. His bags contained no explosives.
“(The announcement) came over the loudspeakers that are dotted around,” said Paul Lecher, 68, a retired Parisian and frequent Louvre visitor.
“Everything happened calmly. It was just a case of listening... People quickly understood, even those who didn’t understand a word of French, that something unusual was happening.”
The Louvre, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, ancient Egyptian artefacts and countless other treasures, is a major attraction for visitors to Paris.
Housed in a former royal palace on the banks of the Seine, the museum welcomed 7.3 million visitors last year or over 23 000 people a day based on its six-day working week.
Visitors were kept inside for a time after the incident.
“There were announcements, then the security guards started running all over the place and, after a short period, they started gathering everybody up and getting them to one side of the building,” said Lance Manus, 71, from, New York.
Manus and his wife Wendy said guards made people sit tightly together, away from the windows and that some children were crying.
“We sat there for over an hour waiting and finally they said we are going to evacuate... as we exited, the police were searching and checking everybody,” Manus said.
France has been hit by a series of militant attacks over the past two years, in which more than 230 people have been killed. The soldier who fired at the machete-wielding man was from one of the patrolling groups that have become a common sight around Paris since a state of emergency was declared across France in November 2015. It remains in force.
The attack took place only hours before leaders of Paris’s bid for the 2024 Olympics hosted a ceremony near the Eiffel Tower to coincide with the final submission of their dossier to the International Olympic Committee.
Speaking outside the Louvre, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said all big cities in the world were under threat. – Reuters and AP