Louvre attack: Soldier, assailant injured as terrorism probe launched

PARIS — A French soldier shot and wounded a machete-wielding man who attacked a patrol beneath the Louvre Museum in Paris on Friday, police and the prosecutor’s office said.

The attacker shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic) before he attempted to assault the military patrol by a shopping center on the museum’s basement level, Paris police chief Michel Cadot said.

The man was carrying two backpacks, but no explosive materials were found inside them, Cadot said, adding that the man possibly had a second weapon on him.

The soldier fired five shots at the assailant in self-defense, the Interior Ministry said.

Images from the scene after the incident showed two soldiers standing over a man purported to be the attacker lying on the floor.

The suspect is currently in serious condition and receiving medical attention, the ministry said, while one other soldier suffered a slight head injury.

Police said the attacker was taken to Georges Pompidou Hospital and that he was awake when brought in.

An additional person was detained, but his role and involvement in the attack was not immediately clear, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said. French broadcasters report that the detainee was present at the scene of the attack.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the attack was “obviously of a terrorist nature.” The authorities have opened a terrorism investigation.

Several government ministers were set to visit the scene of the attack at the Louvre.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made countering terrorism a key policy aim since entering office on Jan. 20, reacted to the attack on Twitter.

“A new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART U.S.” he wrote.

Police said 250 people inside the museum area were kept in a safe space. Cadot later said that police were evacuating the museum in small groups.

One witness to the shooting, identified only as Samba, told broadcasters: “We heard shots. We started to run, we were very scared.”

One evacuee, a teacher who was at the museum with some students, told broadcasters: “It was OK. The security chief inside the museum told us to stay in a corner and then we were evacuated.”

He added that they were aware of what was happening through their mobile phones.

Earlier police cordoned off and secured the entire area around the museum and all nearby metro stations were closed.

In December, France extended its state of emergency through July 2017.

It was the fifth extension of the state of emergency since the measures were enacted after terrorist attacks around Paris in November 2015 that targeted in part a national stadium and concert hall and left 130 people dead.

Tribune News Service
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