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Burundi arrests brother of suspect in French police attack

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-12-22

Burundi authorities said Monday they had arrested the brother of a man who was fatally shot in France after seriously injuring two officers and wounding another in a suspected Islamist-motivated knife attack in Joue-les-Tours.

Burundi's National Intelligence Service said Brice Nzohabonayo was detained in the capital Bujumbura shortly after his brother Bertrand attacked a police station in the central French town of Joue-les-Tours, FRANCE 24's sister station Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported on Monday.

Later in the day, Paris prosecutor François Molins announced that the suspect’s sister had also been taken into custody on Saturday but that she would soon be released as there are no elements suggesting her complicity.

Bertrand Nzohabonayo was shot dead on Saturday after entering the police station armed with a knife and seriously wounding two French officers – slashing one in the face – and wounding a third. The assailant cried "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) during the attack.

"We arrested Brice Nzohabonayo on Saturday while he was staying with one of his uncles in Bujumbura. He had come from France and was spending several days here," intelligence services spokesman Télesphore Bigirimana told AFP.

Bertrand Nzohabonayo had previously committed petty offences but was not on a domestic intelligence watchlist, although his brother is known for his radical views and once pondered going to Syria, a source said.

"He has been detained on our premises and he is being questioned," Bigirimana added, saying Burundi's intelligence service was working with its French counterpart.

Bigirimana said that Burundi had told France last year that the two brothers – who regularly visited Burundi – should be considered suspect because of their extremist religious views.

Police sources in Burundi said the brother gave no resistance as he was arrested.

Investigators said they were seeking to establish if any attacks were planned in Christian-majority Burundi – which is a contributor to the African Union force battling al Qaeda-linked Shabaab Islamists in Somalia.

'Lone wolf'

The incident in France comes as governments around the world brace for so-called "lone wolf" attacks by individuals returning from waging jihad abroad, or who are simply following Islamic State group calls for violence in countries involved in the US-led coalition fighting the radical Islamist group.

A day after the knife attack in Joue-les-Tours, a driver injured 11 people – two of them seriously – in a car attack in the eastern city of Dijon.

Witnesses told police that the driver shouted "Allahu Akbar" and said that he was "acting for the children of Palestine", a source close to the investigation said. He has since been arrested.

"The man, born in 1974, is apparently unbalanced and had been in a psychiatric hospital," a source close to the investigation told AFP, adding that "for now his motives are still unclear".

The man had targeted groups of passersby at five different locations in the city Sunday evening in a rampage that lasted around half an hour, the police source said.

Police sources said the driver was known to police for petty offences dating back to the 1990s.

The assault prompted the government to step up security at police and fire stations nationwide.

The Islamic State group has repeatedly singled out France for such lone attacks, most recently in a video posted on jihadist sites this week.

Last week in Australia, an Iranian-born Islamist with a history of extremism and violence entered a cafe and held people hostage for 16 hours before being killed. Two of the hostages also died.

Three suspected jihadists returning to France from Syria were placed under formal investigation in September for allegedly “planning terrorist acts”. The three made headlines when they initially walked free after arriving at the wrong French airport.

Last year in France, a recent convert to Islam also stabbed a soldier in the busy Paris business complex of La Defense.

And the main suspect in the murders of four people at Brussels' Jewish Museum in May, Mehdi Nemmouche, spent more than a year fighting with extremists in Syria.

Authorities in France believe around 1,200 nationals or residents are involved in one way or another in jihadist networks in Iraq and Syria.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)


Date created : 2014-12-22


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