RAMBOUILLET: French prosecutors opened a terror inquiry on Friday after a police employee was stabbed to death at a station southwest of Paris by a suspected Islamist extremist from Tunisia who was then shot dead by the security forces.

President Emmanuel Macron said France would never give in to “Islamist terrorism” after the attack in Rambouillet, a tranquil commuter town about 60 kilometres from Paris, which revived the trauma of a spate of deadly attacks last year.

France’s national anti-terrorism prosecutors said they had opened a terror investigation, also involving the DGSI domestic intelligence service, into the murder of a person holding public authority.

A source close to the inquiry told AFP the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) during the attack.

Chief anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard, who spoke outside the station along with Prime Minister Jean Castex, confirmed that “comments made by the assailant” indicated a terror motive, without further details.

The attack took place in the secure entrance area of the station at around 2:20 pm, a police source added, asking not to be named.

The 49-year-old woman, an administrative assistant and mother of two who was returning from a lunch break, was stabbed in the throat twice and died of her wounds shortly afterwards, the source said.

The attacker, 36, was fatally wounded when an officer opened fire on him.

He arrived in France illegally in 2009 but had since obtained residency papers, a police source said, adding that he was unknown to security services.

He had just moved to Rambouillet.

Macron vowed on Twitter that “in our fight against Islamist terrorism, we will never give in,” identifying the murdered woman as Stephanie.

“The nation is by the side of her family, her colleagues and security forces,” he said.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who also visited officers in Rambouillet, said security would be stepped up at stations nationwide.

Spate of attacks

Several attacks over the last year have reignited concerns about the spread of radical Islam inside France as well as immigration.

In September, a Pakistani man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside the former offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had printed blasphemous cartoons.

On Oct 16, a young Chechen refugee beheaded teacher Samuel Paty who had showed some of the caricatures to his pupils.

And on Oct 29, three people were killed when a recently arrived Tunisian went on a stabbing spree in a church in the Mediterranean city of Nice.

In the most severe recent attack against French police, three officers and one police employee in Paris were stabbed to death in October 2019 by an IT specialist colleague who was himself then shot dead.

He was later found to have shown an interest in radical Islam.

These attacks came after the massacres carried out by Islamist extremists from 2015 that began with the massacre of staff in the offices of Charlie Hebdo in January that year.

In France’s deadliest peacetime atrocity, 130 people were killed and 350 were wounded when Islamist suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Stade de France stadium, bars and restaurants in central Paris and the Bataclan concert hall in November 2015.

The next year a man rammed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice in 2016, killing 86 people.

Just a few weeks before, in June 2016, two police officers were stabbed to death at their home outside Paris by a man claiming allegiance to the militant Islamic State group.

Macron’s government has introduced legislation to tackle radical Islamist activity in France, a bill that has stirred anger in some Muslim countries.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2021

Opinion

Eid and money
Updated 13 May 2021

Eid and money

Why is a thing more real when you can touch, taste or feel it as opposed to something that is only experienced?
On whose side?
Updated 15 May 2021

On whose side?

Our bevy of ambassadors, after their virtual meeting with the PM, must wonder who is on which side.

Editorial

Eid during Covid
Updated 13 May 2021

Eid during Covid

It is indisputable that our actions now will prevent matters from becoming far worse.
Updated 14 May 2021

Foreign policy gaffes

MIXED messages, retractions and clarifications from the government have become an all-too-common occurrence when it...
Zimbabwe series win
Updated 15 May 2021

Zimbabwe series win

For millions of Pakistani fans, it was a thrilling experience to see their team returning to its winning ways.
PM’s Saudi visit
Updated 12 May 2021

PM’s Saudi visit

It is very important that Pakistan take no step, or agree to any demand, that can have an adverse effect on national sovereignty.
12 May 2021

A new intifada?

THE situation in the occupied territories over the past few days has been incendiary, with tensions boiling over as...
Updated 12 May 2021

SOP violations

ON Monday, Sindh Police officials were given a well-deserved slap on the wrist by a judicial magistrate in Karachi...