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Paris knife attacker was Chechnya-born French citizen and on police watchlist

China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-15 07:25

PARIS - The Paris knife attacker who was shot dead by police on Saturday was a French citizen born in Chechnya and was on a list of potential terrorism suspects, local media reported on Sunday.

The assailant had shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) as he began his stabbing rampage late on Saturday. He fatally knifed a 29-year-old man and wounded four others, among them a Chinese and a Luxembourg citizen, before police shot him dead.

Citing judicial sources, the BFM TV news channel said that the attacker was born in 1997 in Chechnya and had no criminal record, but was on the police watchlist for links with a person in Syria.

A judicial source that appeared in various reports identified the attacker as Khamzat A, without giving his full name, but BFM TV and other French media said that the A stood for Azimov.

The attack took place in the bustling Opera district, known for its many restaurants, cafes and the Palais Garnier opera.

It was the latest in a succession of attacks in France since January 2015 in which more than 240 people have been killed.

Since 2016 the attacker had been on a counter-terrorism watchlist of suspected radicals who may be a threat to national security, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.

The stabbing again exposed the difficulty European intelligence services face in keeping track of suspected extremists and countering the threat posed by homegrown militants and foreign jihadists.

France has participated in a US-led coalition battling Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and it also intervened in Mali to push back an Islamist rebellion in the West African state.

Its military interventions overseas have exposed it to attacks by Islamist militants at home.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack, but provided no proof. Griveaux said the claim had not yet been fully authenticated.

The assailant became French when his mother obtained citizenship in 2010, Griveaux said in a joint interview with broadcasters LCI and RTL and newspaper Le Figaro.

The attacker's parents and a friend were held by the police for questioning after the incident.

The friend, who was arrested in the French city of Strasbourg, is reportedly of the same age as the attacker.

"France pays once again the price of blood but does not give an inch to the enemies of freedom," French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Saturday night, praising police officers for "neutralizing the terrorist".

France has become a major target of terrorist attacks in recent years. Several attacks claimed by the Islamic State state have rattled nerves in France and beyond, with the bloodiest one in Paris in November 2015 leaving 130 dead.

Xinhua - Reuters

(China Daily 05/15/2018 page11)

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