French soldier shoots attacker outside Louvre in Paris
Police officers guard the access to the Louvre museum in Paris after the attack. One soldier sustained an injury to the scalp. Pic/AP
Paris: A knife-wielding man shouting Allahu Akbar attacked French soldiers on patrol near the Louvre Museum yesterday, in what officials described as a suspected terror attack. The soldiers first tried to fight off the attacker and then opened fire, shooting him five times.
The attack at an entrance to a shopping mall that extends beneath the museum sowed panic and again highlighted the threat French officials say hangs over the country, which was hit repeatedly by extremist attacks in 2015 and 2016.
A police official said the attacker carried two backpacks and had two machetes. He said the man launched himself at the soldiers when they told him that he could not bring his bags into the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall underneath the world-famous museum where the Mona Lisa hangs."That's when he got the knife out and that's when he tried to stab the soldier," said the official, Yves Lefebvre. Four soldiers first tried to fight off the attacker before opening fire.
The French interior ministry said anti-terrorism prosecutors are investigating. There were no immediate details on the identity of the attacker.
The attacker slightly injured one of the soldiers, in the scalp. Another soldier opened fire, gravely wounding the attacker. "He is wounded in the stomach," said police chief Michel Cadot. "He is conscious and he was moving."
Checks of the man's two backpacks found they didn't contain any explosives. Cadot said a second person, who was "acting suspiciously", was arrested but appears not to have been linked to the attack.
The attack took place just hours before leaders of Paris' bid for 2024 Olympics were to unveil final candidate files.