Paris knife attack: What we know

An attacker crying "Allahu akbar" killed one person and wounded four others on the streets of Paris Saturday evening before being shot dead by police.

Published: 13th May 2018 10:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th May 2018 10:19 PM   |  A+A-

A police officer cordons off the area after a knife attack in central Paris. | AP

By AFP

PARIS: An attacker crying "Allahu akbar" killed one person and wounded four others on the streets of Paris Saturday evening before being shot dead by police. 

Here is what we know so far:

What happened?

Shortly before 8:50 pm (1850 GMT) a knife-wielding attacker struck on Rue Monsigny, close to Place de L'Opera, an area of central Paris filled with restaurants, bars and tourist attractions.

Two witnesses and a judicial source said the man was shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is greater) during the attack.

Police said the man, seeing them approaching, yelled out, "shoot, shoot. I'm going to gun you down."

Many described scenes of panic as Parisians realised a potential terror attack was underway in a city that has been hit by multiple deadly jihadist assaults in recent years. 

"I was taking orders and I saw a young woman trying to get into the restaurant in panic," Jonathan, a waiter at a Korean restaurant, told AFP. 

The woman was bleeding and the attacker appeared behind her. He said a young man tried to fend off the attacker who then fled. 

"The attacker entered a shopping street, I saw him with a knife in his hand," he said. "He looked crazy". 

Who were the victims?

According to sources with knowledge of the case, the man attacked random people in the street. 

A 29-year-old Frenchman was killed. A 34-year-old man from Luxembourg and a 54-year-old woman were seriously wounded and rushed to hospital. 

A 26-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man were slightly wounded.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb later visited the two who were hospitalised and told reporters all four injured were out of danger.

"I have just seen the person who was most seriously injured, she is better, she is saved," he said.

What was the police response?

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said police were on the scene "within five minutes" of the attack. Some nine minutes later the assailant was dead, he added.

A police source told AFP one officer tried to restrain the attacker with a taser but when that failed a colleague shot the man dead. He was declared dead at 1924 GMT.

"The speed of the response obviously avoided a heavier toll," Philippe said.

What do we know about the attacker?

The attacker, named as Khamzat A., was born in the Russian republic of Chechnya in November 1997 and his parents were taken into custody on Sunday, according to a French judicial source.

"He had no judicial record," the source added of the man, who grew up in the eastern city of Strasbourg, taking French citizenship in 2010 on his mother's naturalisation.

But he had been on both of France's main watchlists for suspected radicals -- the so-called "S file" as well as a more targeted File for the Prevention of Terrorist Radicalisation (FSPRT), focused on potential terror threats -- since 2016.

An informed source said relatives, rather than Khamzat A., had "drawn the attention" of intelligence services.

The man had brown hair and an unkempt beard and was dressed in black tracksuit trousers, according to a source with knowledge of the case.

The source said anti-terrorist officials had interviewed him a year ago in connection with an acquaintance "himself linked to someone who left for Syria."

Investigators said the assailant carried no identifying documents on him.

Authorities are treating the attack as terror related, primarily because witnesses described him shouting "Allahu akbar", a refrain commonly used by jihadists when carrying out attacks.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, according to the SITE monitoring group, but provided no corroborating proof.

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