On Friday, a young man stabbed two people outside the former Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo; where 12 people were killed in 2015; and a terrorism investigation has been opened into the new attack, authorities said.
The suspected assailant had been arrested a month ago for carrying a screwdriver but was not on police radar for Islamic radicalization, France’s interior minister said. He said the screwdriver was consider a weapon, but did not explain why.
In the attack on Friday, two people were wounded, and two suspects were arrested; although the links; between the two suspects weren’t immediately clear. As per the authorities the main suspect; a young man with speckles of blood on his forehead; and wearing orange gym shoes was arrested on the steps of the Bastille Opera in eastern Paris.
The site is not far from where Friday’s attack took place; outside the building where the weekly Charlie Hebdo was located before the 2015 attack. The interior minister said the assistant arrived in France three years ago as an unaccompanied minor, apparently from Pakistan, but his identity was still being verified.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said in an interview with broadcaster France-2 that “Manifestly it’s an act of Islamist terrorism. Obviously, there is little doubt. It’s a new blood attack against our country, against journalists, against this society.”
France’s counterterrorism prosecutor said earlier that authorities suspect; a terrorist motive because of the place and timing of the stabbings; in front of the building where Charlie Hebdo was based until the Islamic extremist attack on its cartoonists; and at a time when suspects in the 2015 attack are on trial across town.
Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said that the chief suspect in Friday’s stabbings was arrested, along with another person. Ricard said the assailant did not know the people stabbed a woman and a man working; at a documentary production company who had stepped outside for a smoke break.
According to the terrorism prosecutor’s office “An investigation was opened into attempted murder in relation to a terrorist enterprise.”
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the lives of the two wounded workers were not in danger. He offered the government’s solidarity; with their families and colleagues. The prime minister noted the “symbolic site” of the attack; “at the very moment where the trail into the atrocious acts against Charlie Hebdo is underway”
He promised the government’s “unfailing attachment to freedom of the press, and its determination to fight terrorism.”
People in the neighbourhood were stunned, saying on French TV that they were reliving the nightmare of the newsroom massacre.
Charlie Hebdo strongly condemned the stabbing in a tweet. The newspaper reads, “This tragic episode shows us once again that fanaticism; intolerance, the origins of which will be revealed by the investigation; are still present in French society….There is no question of ceding anything.”
Paul Moreira, founder of the company Premieres Lignes said “a man in the street attacked two people; who were in front of the building didn’t enter the building; and who attacked them with an axe and who left.” He said the company had not received any threat.