Tuesday 25 September 2018

Paris knife killer was on terrorism watch list

A bullet hole seen on the window of a cafe located near the area where the assailant of a knife attack was shot dead by police officers. Photo: AP Photo/Thibault Camus
A bullet hole seen on the window of a cafe located near the area where the assailant of a knife attack was shot dead by police officers. Photo: AP Photo/Thibault Camus

David Chazan

The suspected terrorist who stabbed a man to death and injured four other people with a kitchen knife in central Paris was a Chechen-born French citizen on a terror watch list.

Named yesterday as Khamzat Azimov (20), he was questioned by counter-terrorism police last year over his links with Islamist radicals, including a woman arrested in Hungary who was suspected of planning to join jihadists in Syria.

French intelligence identified him using facial recognition software. Born in Russia's Chechen Republic, Azimov became French in 2010 when his mother was naturalised after being granted asylum.

Police shot him dead in Rue Monsigny, near the Palais Garnier opera house, nine minutes after receiving the first emergency call at 8.47pm on Saturday. He shouted "Allahu akhbar" as he slashed at bystanders' throats. Dozens ran, shouting warnings to others.

After failing to subdue Azimov with a non-lethal Taser, police surrounded him and fired twice as he rushed at them, shouting: "Kill me or I'll kill you." One shot hit him and the other pierced the door of a cafe, which was closed at the time.

Oliver Woodhead, a London native who owns a local brasserie yards from where the killer was shot, said: "It could have been a lot worse if the police hadn't got here so quickly or if the weather had been warmer and more people had been sitting outside on cafe terraces.

"I think he targeted people who looked like tourists to hurt the tourist industry."

The area, known for its nightlife and popular with tourists and Parisians, was bustling but less crowded than usual for a Saturday night because many residents were away on holiday.

Overnight, doctors operated on a 54-year-old woman and a man (34), who were seriously injured in the attack.

The man was described as a tourist but his nationality was not disclosed. Gerard Collomb, the interior minister, said both were "out of danger".

Another woman, aged 26, and a 31-year-old man had minor injuries. The murdered Frenchman was named only as Ronan, and was 29. One of the injured was believed to be a Chinese national.

Azimov had no criminal record but was among the 20,000 people on the 'S' file of suspects considered a potential security risk. The authorities face questions over surveillance, as other attacks have also been perpetrated by 'S' file suspects.

Telegraph.co.uk

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