Paris police station attacker gunned down

A French policeman redirecting traffic at the Boulevard de Barbes in the north of Paris yesterday after a knife-wielding man attempted to attack a policeman at the reception of a police station in Paris "before being hit by shots from the police".
A French policeman redirecting traffic at the Boulevard de Barbes in the north of Paris yesterday after a knife-wielding man attempted to attack a policeman at the reception of a police station in Paris "before being hit by shots from the police".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Attack on anniversary of Charlie Hebdo killings; man was wearing fake explosives vest, ISIS emblem

PARIS • French police shot dead a knife-wielding man as he attacked a police station in Paris, a year to the day since extremists killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo newspaper.

The man reportedly shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is the greatest) and was wearing what appeared to be an explosives vest although it was later found to be a fake, police and government sources said. He was also carrying an emblem of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group.

News of yesterday's attack came just after President Francois Hollande concluded a sombre speech at police headquarters to mark the anniversary of the killings at Charlie Hebdo's offices on Jan 7 last year.

"On Thursday morning, a man attempted to attack a policeman at the reception of the police station before being hit by shots from the police," Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

Explosives experts were deployed to the scene in the multi-ethnic Goutte d'Or district, close to the Gare du Nord train station.

The man was found to have been wearing a pouch under his coat with a wire hanging from it, but the device "contained no explosives", said a source close to the investigation.

With France also still grieving after the massacre of 130 people by extremists in Paris in November, Mr Hollande used his speech to call for greater cooperation between the security services. "Faced with these adversaries, it is essential that every service - police, gendarmerie, intelligence, military - work in perfect harmony, with the greatest transparency, and that they share all the information at their disposal."

Many of the extremists in both January's rampage and the attacks in November were known to French security services, having either travelled abroad to fight with extremists or been prevented from doing so.

Mr Hollande said since the attack on Charlie Hebdo, nearly 200 people in France had been placed under travel restrictions to prevent them from joining the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

He said the three police officers killed in January's attacks "died so that we could live in freedom".

A policeman guarding Mr Stephane Charbonnier, the newspaper's editor, was killed alongside him by brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, who shot dead another policeman as he sprawled on the pavement near Charlie Hebdo's offices.

The next day, a policewoman was killed by extremist Amedy Coulibaly in the southern suburb of Montrouge, apparently as he was heading to attack a Jewish school.

Among changes set to be introduced in the wake of the November attacks are new rules allowing police to keep their weapons even when off duty. Mr Hollande reiterated his pledge to boost the number of police and armed gendarmes by 5,000.

There will also be a concert on Sunday to mark the one million people who poured on to the streets of Paris on Jan 11 last year in an outpouring of support for freedom of expression in the wake of the deaths of Charlie Hebdo's best-known cartoonists.

The newspaper had been in the extremists' sights since it first published cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in 2006.

On Wednesday, it published a typically provocative special edition featuring a bloodstained, bearded God figure in sandals with a Kalashnikov rifle slung over his shoulder under the headline "One year on: the killer is still at large".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2016, with the headline 'Paris police station attacker gunned down'. Print Edition | Subscribe