French anti-terrorism investigators were searching yesterday for a man who stabbed a soldier in the throat in the commercial district of La Defense outside Paris.
The 23-year-old soldier, Cedric Cordier, was in uniform patrolling the underground corridors where shops and crowded public transport lines converge beneath the Arch of La Defense.
Saturday’s stabbing came days after a British soldier was hacked to death on a London street in broad daylight in a suspected terrorist attack that has raised fears of potential copycat strikes. However, there was no immediate confirmation of any link between the two attacks.
Cordier remained hospitalized yesterday, but officials said his wound was not life-threatening.
The French soldier was on a group patrol as part of a national protection program when he was attacked from behind.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who visited Cordier at the hospital on Saturday evening, said that he had been targeted because he was a soldier.
Speaking shortly after the attack while on an official visit to Ethiopia, French President Francois Hollande said that while “all hypotheses” will be investigated, there did not appear to be a link with Wednesday’s deadly attack in London.
French security forces have been on heightened alert since their country launched a military intervention in the African nation of Mali in January to regain territory seized by Islamic radicals.
Meanwhile, three men were arrested in Britain on Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder Lee Rigby, who was slain on Wednesday.
Two men aged 28 and 24 were arrested at a home in southeast London. Police fired a Taser electric stun gun on the older suspect, and on a 21-year-old man they arrested in a street about a kilometer from the murder scene.
The two men suspected of murdering Rigby, 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo and 22-year-old Michael Adebowale, remain in a stable condition under armed guard in separate hospitals after being shot by police at the scene of the killing.
After the killing, the pair launched into an Islamist tirade against British military involvement in Muslim countries, captured on film by a passerby whose footage of Adebolajo, hands bloody and wielding a knife and meat cleaver, shocked the nation.
Additional reporting by AFP