A knife-wielding assailant killed four French officers inside police headquarters in Paris before being shot dead by a first responder. Here is what is known about the attack that put France’s capital on high alert.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The perpetrator entered the Paris police headquarters shortly before 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT). He carried a ceramic knife with him, which wasn’t picked up by the metal detectors.The man swiftly made his way into one of the offices where he engaged in an argument with a policeman. At some point during the quarrel, he got his long-blade knife out and stabbed his interlocutor and others around him. Four officers, three men and a woman, suffered mortal wounds in the attack, authorities announced.
The suspect was only stopped when another policeman shot him dead with an automatic rifle.
WHO WAS THE ATTACKER?
The attacker was described as a staffer at the police headquarters, who had worked there for around 20 years and had never caused any problems. The man was said to be an administrator in the intelligence unit. He had all the security clearances, which allowed him to enter the police HQ without causing any suspicions and roam freely around the building.
The person reportedly converted to Islam months before the incident, but this is yet officially to be confirmed.
THE MOTIVE BEHIND THE STABBING
The motive for the attack isn’t yet clear, but police union leader Jean-Marc Bailleul said that it was likely a criminal rather than a terrorist incident. “It was a moment of madness,” Bailleul told BFM TV. Another police official told Franceinfo radio that there were “tensions” between the attacker and his direct supervisor, who may have been among the victims.
WHERE DID IT HAPPEN?
The Paris police headquarters occupy a historic building on Ile de la Cite, a natural island in the Seine River in the very heart of the French capital. The HQ is located just a few buildings away from the iconic Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral and other well-known historical landmarks.
HOW DID THE GOVERNMENT REACT?
The high-profile attack saw top officials rushing to the scene shortly after it happened. French President Emmanuel Macron arrived at the HQ as soon as a secure perimeter was established. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner, who postponed his visit to Turkey, were also there.