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Thursday 22 March 2018

Paris station attack: police bid to identify suspect

Armed police take up positions after an attempted attack on a police station in Paris (AP)
Armed police take up positions after an attempted attack on a police station in Paris (AP)

Investigators are still trying to verify the true identity of the man who tried to attack a Paris police station with a butcher's knife and a fake explosives vest.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told France-Inter radio that the assailant shot dead on Thursday, the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, carried a paper marked with the Muslim declaration of faith, an emblem of the Islamic State group, his name, and gave his nationality as Tunisian.

Mr Molins said he also had a phone with a German SIM card.

Stopped for a minor theft in 2013 in France's south, the man had identified himself as Ali Sallah and gave his nationality as Moroccan.

The man at the police station is believed to have cried out "Allahu akbar", Arabic for "God is great".

Fr ance has been under a state of emergency since a series of attacks claimed by the Islamic State group killed 130 people in Paris on November 13, and tensions increased this week as the anniversary of the January attacks approached. Soldiers were posted in front of schools and security forces were even more present than usual amid a series of tributes to the dead.

Officials said the man shot dead on Thursday threatened officers at the entrance of a police station near the Montmartre neighbourhood, home to the Sacre Coeur Cathedral.

Just moments before, French President Francois Hollande, speaking in a different location, had paid respects to officers fallen in the line of duty. He also said that a "terrorist threat" would continue to weigh on France.

The government has announced new measures extending police powers to allow officers to use their weapons to "neutralise someone who has just committed one or several murders and is likely to repeat these crimes".

At 11.35am on January 7 2015, two French-born brothers killed 11 people at the building where Charlie Hebdo operated, as well as a Muslim policeman outside. Over the next two days, an accomplice shot and killed a policewoman and then stormed a kosher supermarket, killing four hostages. A total of 17 people died, as did all three gunmen.

Following the January attacks, the government announced it planned to give police better equipment and hire more intelligence agents.

Press Association

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