PARIS, on edge after weathering a year of jihadist violence, faced a fresh scare Thursday as police shot dead a knife-wielding man on the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
An image of the ISIS flag, printed on paper, was found on the man’s body, along with a handwritten note in Arabic from him claiming responsibility for the attack, the Paris prosecutor’s office said in a statement. The office’s anti-terror section is investigating.
The man, whose identity is not known, was shot as he attempted to enter a police station in the northern Paris neighborhood of Barbes, bearing a butcher’s knife and yelling “Allahu Akbar,” the statement said. He was carrying a fake explosive device, it said.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said at a press conference that investigations were underway to determine the identity of the attacker and his motivations.
“In a country where the threat level is extremely high, the police and gendarmerie are on the front lines,” he said. “I’d like to thank them for their very great courage … and their commitment to protect the French people.”
The attempted attack took place at 11:30 a.m., the Paris prosecutor’s office said — a year to the minute since the Charlie Hebdo killings, the first of a spate of deadly jihadist attacks that have roiled the French capital over the past 12 months.
In those attacks, two gunmen killed 12 people at the offices of the French satirical magazine, which had angered Islamists for its irreverent approach to Islam and publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
Two more attacks — one against a police officer and another that included a hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket — brought the final death toll to 17.
On high alert against the jihadist threat since then, France suffered an even greater blow November 13 when 130 people were killed in Paris in coordinated attacks on a concert hall, bars, restaurants and a sports stadium. ISIS claimed responsibility.
In the aftermath, French President Francois Hollande declared that the country was at war with the terror group and set about strengthening international efforts to strike ISIS on territory it controls in Syria and Iraq. – CNN