Sunday 25 February 2018

Tourists' fears over French security after Louvre terror attack

Investigation: Louvre attacker was shot by French soldiers
Investigation: Louvre attacker was shot by French soldiers

Thomas Adamson

The Louvre has reopened to the public less than 24 hours after a machete-wielding assailant shouting "Allahu Akbar!" was shot by soldiers in Paris.

In drizzly weather, tourists filed by armed police and soldiers outside the central Paris museum, which had been closed immediately after Friday's attack. The attacker was shot four times after injuring a soldier patrolling a shopping area beneath the museum.

An Egyptian interior ministry official confirmed the identity of the attacker as Egyptian-born Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy (28).

The official said the initial investigation found no record of political activism, criminal activity or membership of any militant groups at home.

Tweets about a trip from Dubai to Paris were sent from the Twitter profile of an Abdallah El-Hamahmy on January 26. In the profile photo, the man is seen smiling and leaning against a wall in a blue and white jacket. In another tweet, the user went on a rant, posting: "No negotiation, no compromise, no letting up, certainly no climb down, relentless war."

The assailant remains in a grave condition in hospital, according to French authorities who have yet to confirm the identification.

Louvre visitors expressed mixed feelings yesterday over the incident, with some tourists planning to leave Paris earlier than planned.

"We heard on the news that a terrorist attack took place... We stayed at the hotel and were thinking about cutting our vacation in Paris short," said Lucia Reveron from Argentina.

Others were stoic and felt safe because of the heightened security presence.

"I went around yesterday, in the evening, and security was everywhere. Even now when we arrived (at The Louvre) we were checked and it's secure. I don't feel any threats," said Kurt Vellafonde from Malta.

With the spate of attacks on the country in the last couple of years, many permanent residents have become resilient.

"There have been very good security measures taken, and it does not scare me at all," said Regine Dechivre. "It's the phenomena of a person a little bit disturbed. The investigation will tell us what exactly happened," she added.

The United Arab Emirates condemned the attack after a French official said on Friday night that the attacker was believed to have been living in that country. UAE officials offered no comment about his possible connection to the country.

The country, which includes the Middle East commercial hub of Dubai, is a major destination for guest workers from Egypt and numerous other countries.

"The UAE, while strongly condemning this hideous crime, affirms its full solidarity with the friendly French Republic in these circumstances and its support for whatever measures France may take to preserve its security and safety of its citizens and residents," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement.

The ministry called for an intensification of international efforts to fight extremism and terrorism, and praised French soldiers for their response to the attack.

"This terrorist attack on the Louvre Museum, the centre for human civilisation and heritage, exposed the darkness of terrorism and its ceaseless attempts to destroy the human heritage," it said.

Sunday Independent

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