STRASBOURG: French police shot and injured a knife-wielding man in the northeastern city of Metz on Sunday, two days after a suspected Islamist radical stabbed a man to death near Paris, investigators said.
Metz public prosecutor Christian Mercuri said the man in Sunday’s incident, who was known to police both “for his radicalisation and for a personality disorder”, shouted “Allah Akbar” before being shot.
A police source said the suspect, who was born in 1989, threatened officers when they arrived on the scene and that they fired shots to overpower him.
“He is injured but his life is not in danger,” the source said, adding that no-one else was hurt.
Mercuri said he was taken to hospital, where he was placed in custody, and was under investigation for the attempted murder of police officers.
The 22-year-old man who killed a man and injured two women when he ran amok in a park in the Paris suburb of Villejuif, was also said by witnesses to have shouted “Allah Akbar”.
A convert to Islam, the attacker, who was shot dead by police, also suffered from psychiatric difficulties.
His stabbings are being treated as a terror attack.
Mercuri said he was in discussions with terrorism prosecutors about whether they should also take charge of the investigation in Metz.
In the Villejuif case, the office of the anti-terrorism prosecutor said that “although the perpetrator had a proven history of serious psychiatric problems” the investigation had shown “a distinct radicalisation...as well as preparations for his attack”.
A bag belonging to the man, identified by police as Nathan C., was found at the scene. It contained works by ultraconservative Salafist writers and a letter that read like a last will and testament, investigators said.
Laure Beccuau, the public prosecutor in the town of Creteil who had been handling the probe before it was taken over by the anti-terrorism bureau, said the assailant spared the life of the first person he met the park after the man, a Muslim, recited a prayer in Arabic.
He then stabbed a 56-year-old man in the heart and also injured his wife aged 47 before knifing a 30-year-old female jogger in the back. The two women were discharged from hospital on Saturday after being treated for their injuries.
The attacks come just days before France marks the fifth anniversary of the killing of 12 people at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris by two brothers vowing allegiance to Al Qaeda.
France remains on high alert after being hit by a string of attacks by jihadist extremists since then, with more than 250 people killed in total.
Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2020