Anti-terror inquiry opened into attempted attack on Paris police station
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A man armed with a knife was shot dead by security forces Thursday after attempting to enter a police station in northern Paris. An anti-terrorism inquiry has been opened into the incident, Paris prosecutors said.
The incident took place at around 11:30am outside a police station in the Goutte-d'Or area of the French capital’s 18th arrondissement (district).
A witness who was around 50 metres from the police station told FRANCE 24 that he clearly heard the man cry, "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest). Police said the man was wearing a fake explosives belt.
Investigators have matched the man's fingerprints with those on file for a convicted thief who was born in the Moroccan city of Casablanca in 1995, a source close to the investigation told AFP.
Paris prosecutors said a terrorism investigation had been opened, adding that the man was carrying a butcher’s knife as well as a piece of paper on which the flag of the Islamic State (IS) group was printed along with a claim of responsibility written in Arabic.
According to French daily Le Parisien, quoting a source close to the investigation, the piece of paper stated that the attack was “revenge for the killings in Syria”.
Pictures posted on Twitter showed the alleged assailant wearing a camouflage coat, lying on the pavement after being killed. A police bomb disposal robot appeared to be inspecting the body.
The usually vibrant neighbourhood was on lockdown, including two schools on the same street as the police station, according to education officials. Nearby metro stations were also closed.
“A few locals who live in flats around the police station managed to get into the area, but only after thorough searches from police sources,” said FRANCE 24’s Clovis Casali, who was at the scene.
Casali added that firemen and emergency responders had also arrived in the Goutte d’Or neighbourhood.
The incident took place as France marked the one-year anniversary of the January 7, 2015, terror attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
France has been on high alert ever since the attack on Charlie Hebdo, the fatal shooting of a policewoman and a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket that left four people dead. The three days of attacks left 17 people dead.
Security concerns were further heightened after November 13, when 130 people were killed in the capital in coordinated shootings and suicide bombings that targeted a music hall, bars and restaurants, and a soccer stadium.
In Thursday’s incident, the man tried to force his way into the police station in the 18th arrondissement of northern Paris, an area that the IS group has said it plans to target.
France has increased its strikes on jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq since the November attacks, becoming the second-largest contributor to the US-led coalition against the IS group.
Security measures at home have included a three-month state of emergency, during which the police have launched hundreds of raids on homes, mosques, restaurants and hotels.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)