Saturday 3 December 2016

Paris police shoot dead 'knife-wielding man with fake explosive vest' on Charlie Hebdo anniversary

Published 07/01/2016 | 11:47

A bomb disposal robot examining the body of the man Credit: Anna Polonyi (@akilincs)
A bomb disposal robot examining the body of the man Credit: Anna Polonyi (@akilincs)

Police in Paris have shot dead a man who allegedly tried to enter a police station armed with a knife while wearing a fake explosive vest, French officials said.

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The incident comes a year to the day after the terror attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Luc Poignant, a police union official, said the man cried out "Allahu akbar", Arabic for "God is great".

"The man was wearing what looked like an explosive vest, but it was fake," according to two French police officials.

An Interior Ministry spokesman also confirmed that the man's suicide belt was fake.

The identify of the man has not yet been confirmed, police added.

In Thursday's incident, the man allegedly tried to force his way into a police station in the 18th district in northern Paris, an area that Islamic State said it had been planning to hit as part of the November attacks.   

French police work around the covered body of a man shot dead outside a police station in the 18th district in Paris Credit: Anna Polonyi
French police work around the covered body of a man shot dead outside a police station in the 18th district in Paris Credit: Anna Polonyi
Police officers secure the area after a fatal shooting which took place at a police station in Paris (AP)

"According to our colleagues, he wanted to blow himself up," an official at the Alternative Police union said.

"He shouted Allahu Akbar and had wires protruding from his clothes. That's why the police officer opened fire."

A Paris police official said they were investigating the incident as "more likely terrorism" than a standard criminal act.

The neighbourhood in the Goutte d'Or district of northern Paris remains in locked down.

Just a few minutes before the shooting, elsewhere in the city French president Francois Hollande had finished paying homage to police officers killed in the line of duty, including three shot to death in last January's Charlie Hebdo terror attacks.

Mr Hollande said officers die in the line of duty "so that we can live free".

In a speech to police forces charged with protecting the country against new attacks, Mr Hollande said the government was passing new laws and ramping up security, but the threat remained high.

Mr Hollande especially called for better surveillance of "radicalised" citizens who have joined Islamic State or other militant groups in Syria and Iraq when they return to France.

"We must be able to force these people -and only these people - to fulfil certain obligations and if necessary to put them under house arrest... because they are dangerous," he said.

France has been on high alert ever since the shootings last January at the Charlie Hebdo office and at a Jewish supermarket in which 17 people died over three days.

Cartoonist Laurent Sourisseau, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, who is known as Riss, told France Inter radio "security is a new expense for the newspaper budget".

"This past year we've had to invest nearly two million euros to secure our office, which is an enormous sum," he said. "We have to spend hundreds of thousands on surveillance of our offices, which wasn't previously in Charlie's budget, but we had an obligation so that employees feel safe and can work safely."

After the attacks, people around the world embraced the expression "Je suis Charlie" to express solidarity with the slain journalists, targeted for the paper's caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

French police patrol near the Boulevard de Barbes in the north of Paris after police shot a man dead as he was trying to enter a police station in the nearby Rue de la Goutte d'Or Credit: LIONEL BONAVENTURE (AFP/Getty Images)
French police patrol near the Boulevard de Barbes in the north of Paris after police shot a man dead as he was trying to enter a police station in the nearby Rue de la Goutte d'Or Credit: LIONEL BONAVENTURE (AFP/Getty Images)
French police shot dead the knife-wielding man as he attacked a police station in Paris, a year to the day since jihadist gunmen killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo newspaper Credit: LIONEL BONAVENTURE (AFP/Getty Images

"It's a phrase that was used during the march as a sign of emotion or resistance to terrorism," Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Corinne Rey - known as Coco - told France Inter radio.

"And little by little, I realised that 'I am Charlie' was misused for so many things. And now I don't really know what it means."

Security concerns were further heightened in November, 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.

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