Machete attacker shot in Paris' Louvre

Police officers standing guard near the Pyramid of the Louvre museum yesterday. Prime Minister Cazeneuve called the attack "terrorist in nature", while a second man whose behaviour was "suspicious" has been arrested.
Police officers standing guard near the Pyramid of the Louvre museum yesterday. Prime Minister Cazeneuve called the attack "terrorist in nature", while a second man whose behaviour was "suspicious" has been arrested.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Assailant injured in incident that sparks fresh jitters in country reeling from previous strikes

PARIS • A French soldier patrolling at the Louvre museum in Paris shot and seriously injured a machete- wielding man yesterday who yelled "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great") as he attacked security forces, police said.

Hundreds of tourists were confined to secure areas of the world- famous art gallery in central Paris after the attacker was shot five times at around 10am French time (5pm Singapore time) in a public area inside the complex.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called the attack "terrorist in nature". One soldier was "lightly injured" and has been taken to hospital, while the attacker is in serious condition but still alive, security forces said.

Two backpacks carried by the assailant were checked by bomb disposal specialists at the scene and found not to contain explosives.

The incident sparked fresh jitters in a country just three months from an election and still reeling from a string of terror attacks over the last two years. France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015.

Thousands of troops have been deployed to guard the capital, with groups of soldiers with automatic rifles a regular sight inside the Louvre and around its gardens.

"It's so sad and shocking... We can't let them win, it's horrible," said British tourist Gillian Simms, who was in Paris with her daughters.

  • RECENT ATTACKS

  • January 2015

    Militant gunmen killed journalists at the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in Paris, for publishing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Another attacker killed shoppers in a Jewish supermarket.

    Death toll: 17 people dead in three days.

  • Nov 13, 2015

    Gunmen and suicide bombers from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group attacked bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national stadium in Paris.

    Death toll: 130 people.

  • July 2016

    A Tunisian extremist rammed a lorry through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice on France's south coast.

    Death toll: 86 people.

The huge former royal palace in the heart of the city is home to the Mona Lisa and other renowned works of art, as well as a shopping area and many exhibition spaces.

The attacker was shot five times while in the stairway to an entrance of the museum from the underground Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre, city police chief Michel Cadot told reporters outside.

"The people who were in the museum - there were about 250 of them - were held at a distance and confined in secure areas of the Louvre," he said. A second man whose behaviour was "suspicious" has been arrested, Mr Cadot added, without giving further details.

France has suffered a string of attacks in recent years, beginning in January 2015 when militant gunmen killed journalists at the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in Paris for publishing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Another attacker went on to kill shoppers in a Jewish supermarket, with a total of 17 people dead in three days of bloodshed.

Ten months later, gunmen and suicide bombers from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group attacked bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national stadium in Paris on Nov 13, 2015, killing 130 people.

And last July, a Tunisian extremist rammed a lorry through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, crushing 86 people to death.

In November, French police broke up an alleged militant terror ring that was thought to be planning to attack Paris.

Yesterday's incident came on the very day that Paris was submitting its formal bid dossier to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Officials said the scheduled events - including a launch show at the Eiffel Tower - would go ahead as planned despite the Louvre incident.

In reaction to the attack, United States President Donald Trump tweeted: "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."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2017, with the headline 'Machete attacker shot in Paris' Louvre'. Print Edition | Subscribe