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Knife attack near former Charlie Hebdo offices Knife attack near former Charlie Hebdo offices  (ANSA)

French authorities investigate act of terrorism

French authorities detain 7 people as they investigate what they view as an act of terrorism.

By Stefan J. Bos  

Police, special security forces, and rescue workers rushed to a familiar location. A man armed with a meat cleaver wounded two people outside the former Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. 

Here, 12 people were killed in 2015 after the magazine published cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad and Islam.

The man and a woman confirmed injured on Friday afternoon worked for a documentary film company. They were reportedly attacked during a smoke break outside. 

The main suspect was identified as an 18-year-old man of Pakistani origin. Police detained him near the scene. But officials said six others were also in custody now and being questioned. 

Act of terror

Friday's attack is being treated as a terrorist incident, explained Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. "Manifestly, it's an act of Islamist terrorism. Obviously, there is little doubt. It's a new bloody attack against our country, against journalists, against this society," he told French television.

The interior minister also said the assailant arrived in France three years ago as an unaccompanied minor, apparently from Pakistan. 

Officials revealed that the suspected assailant had already been detained a month ago for carrying a screwdriver. But he was not on police radar for Islamic radicalization. 

Prosecutors say an investigation has been opened into an "attempted murder in relation to a terrorist enterprise." 

After uncertainty, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the lives of the two wounded workers' lives were not in danger. He offered the government's solidarity with their families and colleagues.

But in the neighborhood, people are stunned. They say they were reliving the nightmare of the newsroom massacre five years ago. Magazine Charlie Hebdo strongly condemned the stabbings, which came after it republished. 

Tragic episode 

It said on social media: "This tragic episode shows us once again that fanaticism, intolerance, the origins of which will be revealed by the investigation, are still present in French society. It added, "There is no question of ceding anything." 

This month, Charlie Hebdo republished the same cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad and Islam that prompted the magazine's deadly attack in 2015. 

Its publication coincided with the start of the long-awaited terrorism trial of people accused as accomplices in the attack. 

The court procedure comes in a deeply scarred nation by what many called a horrific act of brutality. 

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos
26 September 2020, 19:14