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France

Louvre attack suspect ‘did not act on orders from IS group’

© Jacques Demarthon, AFP | People walk past a police vehicle parked near the Louvre Museum in Paris on February 4, 2017.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-02-09

The main suspect in last week’s machete attack on four soldiers at the Louvre Museum in Paris told authorities he had acted alone, sources close to the investigation said on Wednesday.

The man, a 29-year-old Egyptian national identified as Abdallah El-Hamahmy, broke his silence over the incident earlier this week after initially refusing to speak to investigators.

El-Hamahmy said that he went to the Louvre last Friday morning with the intention of committing a symbolic attack against France by defacing one of the museum’s masterpieces with spray paint found in his backpack, and did not mean to assault the four soldiers, sources close to the investigation told AFP. He said that he acted alone, denying he was under orders from the Islamic State (IS) group.

El-Hamahmy’s account differs sharply from the official version given by police, who say he was armed with a machete in each hand when he charged at the four soldiers, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (or “God is Greatest”). After a brief struggle, one of the troops opened fire, shooting El-Hamahmy four times.

He is currently in critical condition at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in Paris.

El-Hamahmy legally entered France on January 26 from Dubai, where he was a resident. He is believed to have stayed in an apartment near the famed Champs-Elysées in Paris’s 8th arrondissement (or district), where police found €900 in cash, an iPad and several pre-paid cards in a search last week.

In the days after his arrival, El-Hamahmy is thought to have rented a vehicle before buying two machetes at a store in the French capital’s eastern 12th arrondissement.

Investigators combing for clues have focused their attention on a Twitter account that El-Hamahmy is suspected to have used to post dozens of messages in Arabic just minutes before the attack.

"Why are they afraid of the creation of a state for Islam? Because the state of Islam defends its resources and the honour of Muslims," read one post.

"In the name of Allah... for our brothers in Syria and fighters across the world," declared another.

El-Hamahmy’s father Reda El-Hamahmy, a retired police officer, told AFP his son had shown no signs of radicalisation before the attack.

He said the family was relatively well off, with Abdallah El-Hamahmy earning a law degree in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura in 2010 before moving to Dubai to become a sales manager.

He added that his son’s wife was pregnant with the couple's second child and was currently in Saudi Arabia.

The assault at the Louvre is the latest in a string of attacks across France over the past two years, which have claimed a total of 238 lives.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2017-02-08

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