The assailant who fatally stabbed a teacher in France in what President Emmanuel Macron called an Islamist terror attack was possibly motivated by the war between Israel and Hamas, a top security official said.
(Bloomberg) — The assailant who fatally stabbed a teacher in France in what President Emmanuel Macron called an Islamist terror attack was possibly motivated by the war between Israel and Hamas, a top security official said.
“Based on our intelligence, on our information, there’s probably a link between what happened in the Middle East and the decision to act,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told broadcaster TF1 on Friday. France has stepped up security nationwide with more soldiers dispatched to help police, although there’s “no specific threat,” he said.
Macron traveled to the northern city of Arras earlier Friday after the knife attack, which severely wounded two other victims. He said a second potential attack in a different region was thwarted by authorities. The Arras attacker was arrested and anti-terrorist prosecutors are leading the investigation.
The assailant, who is of Chechen origin, had previously been flagged by authorities for being radicalized, Agence France-Presse reported. The assailant’s brother was arrested near another school but was unarmed, according to AFP.
Macron called the killing an example of the “barbarity of Islamist terrorism” and urged people in France to resist divisiveness.
France previously boosted its police presence, particularly around synagogues and Jewish schools, Darmanin said this week. He also banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations citing a high risk of violence, though thousands of people gathered on Thursday in Paris and other cities for pro-Palestinian rallies that were subsequently dispersed.
On Friday, Darmanin called for heightened security at schools across France.
In a separate incident, a person was arrested in a Paris suburb on Friday afternoon for carrying a weapon. It wasn’t clear if this was the other incident cited by Macron.
The killing occurred days before the third anniversary of the gruesome murder of Samuel Paty, who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class, by a jihadist.
–With assistance from Ania Nussbaum and Samy Adghirni.
(Updated with interior minister’s comments starting in first paragraph. A previous version corrected Macron’s quote on terrorism.)
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