Louvre reopens day after 'terror attack'

Tourists queueing in the rain at the entrance of the Louvre in Paris yesterday, a day after a soldier shot an attacker at the museum.
Tourists queueing in the rain at the entrance of the Louvre in Paris yesterday, a day after a soldier shot an attacker at the museum.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Tourists throng art museum as authorities investigate attack

PARIS • Art lovers returned to the Louvre in Paris yesterday, 24 hours after a soldier shot a machete-wielding attacker at the museum, believed to be an Egyptian who entered the country a week ago.

The incident on Friday thrust security and the terror threat back into the limelight three months before elections in France, with the authorities saying it was a "terrorist" assault.

French investigators say the attacker, in a black T-shirt bearing a skull design and armed with two machetes, lunged at four patrolling French soldiers while shouting, "Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)".

One of the troops was "lightly injured" in the attack after being struck on the head in a public area that leads to one of the museum's entrance. A second soldier opened fire five times and hit the machete-wielder in the stomach.

"The attacker fell to the ground, seriously wounded," Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a press conference late on Friday.

His condition stabilised overnight in a Parisian hospital, a source close to the case said.

The man is believed to have tweeted about the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group minutes before the assault, a source close to the investigation has said. The tweets came from "a Twitter account whose owner could be the attacker", the source said, adding that investigators were unable to formally confirm this at the moment.

The messages were posted in Arabic Friday on the account of Abdallah El-Hamahmy. "In the name of Allah... for our brothers in Syria and fighters across the world," he wrote at 9.31am.

One minute later, he posted another tweet, making reference to ISIS.

At least 10 tweets were posted between 9.27am and 9.34am, shortly before the attack began at the Louvre at 9.50am.

Investigators are also examining an iPhone 7 and iPad belonging to the assailant, whose identity had yet to be confirmed late on Friday.

Investigators have established he entered France legally on a flight from Dubai on Jan 26 and had rented an expensive apartment near the Champs Elysees, sources close to the case said.

At the Louvre yesterday, a crowd had formed at the main entrance as the doors reopened to the first visitors of the day at 9.30am.

"I'm quite worried about coming today, but as we weren't able to visit yesterday, we decided to come back anyway," 28-year-old Russian visitor Elena Lordugen said.

Soldiers in uniform with machine guns could be seen patrolling as usual, with routine bag checks also undertaken by Louvre security staff.

Mr Ali Tali, a Turkish tourist in his 40s, shrugged off their presence. "We're used to these security measures in Turkey," he said.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that a "new radical Islamic terrorist has just attacked in Louvre Museum in Paris. Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART US."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 05, 2017, with the headline 'Louvre reopens day after 'terror attack''. Print Edition | Subscribe