A suspected lone wolf terrorist who attacked security forces as he tried to enter Paris's Louvre museum on Friday (Feb 3) morning was shot and gravely injured, Paris police said.
The man shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he charged at two soldiers patrolling Carrousel, the underground shopping mall linked to the world-famous museum, with two machetes, Paris police chief Michel Cadot was quoted on the police department's Twitter account as saying at a press conference.
Cadot said the man's remarks indicated that he was going to carry out a terrorist attack. He injured one of the soldiers before the other soldier opened fire five times in self-defence, Cadot said.
The attacker was seriously injured in the stomach while the injured soldier sustain injuries to his scalp, Cadot added.
The Louvre museum, the Carrousel and their surrounding grounds were cordoned off after the incident and the 250 visitors who were in the museum at the time of the attack evacuated, he added.
The Paris prosecutor’s anti-terrorist unit has opened an investigation into the incident.
“This is clearly an attack with terrorist characteristics,” Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
France is due to elect its new president on April 23 and security and fears of terrorism are among the key issues under debate.
The country has been living under a state of emergency since November 2015, when militants linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group staged coordinated terror attacks in Paris, killing 130 people.
Last July a terrorist drove a truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in the seaside town of Nice, killing 86 people.
Paris was planning to submit its official bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games on Friday with a launch show at the Eiffel Tower around 1730 GMT (1:30am Saturday Singapore time), Reuters reported.
US President Donald Trump, whose temporary ban on the entry of citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries into the US has triggered widespread condemnation, weighed in on the incident using his favourite platform.
"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 on Twitter.
The Louvre is a sprawling former royal palace in the heart of Paris housing the Mona Lisa and other world-famous works of art.
Last year it attracted 7.3 million visitors, a 15 per cent drop from numbers before the spate of terrorist attacks on France.
Cadot, the Paris police chief, said police did not find any explosives in the two bag packs carried by the Louvre attacker, who has been taken into custody.
A second person has been taken in for questioning, said interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet, without elaborating on the person's role in the incident.
He told reporters the nationality and identity of the attacker was still under investigation.
“There is a permanent terrorist threat hanging over France,” Brandet said according to media reports. “We cannot let our guard down.”