Fri, Aug 24, 2018 - Page 7 News List

France downplays terror threat after knife attack

AFP, PARIS

A man yesterday stabbed his mother and sister to death and seriously injured another person in Trappes, near Paris, before being shot dead by police.

The killer had serious mental health problems and had been on a terror watch list since 2016, French Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb told reporters after visiting the scene in the town of Trappes.

The motive for the violence remained unclear despite a claim by the Islamic State (IS) group that it was an attack by one of its fighters responding to group’s propaganda.

The attacker was “mentally unstable, rather than someone who was committed, who would respond to orders from a terrorist organization, in particular Daesh,” Collomb said, using another name for IS.

Regular French criminal prosecutors are investigating the case rather than anti-terrorism specialists, Collomb said, although checks on the attacker’s cellphone and computer were under way.

Experts have urged caution about recent IS announcements, because the group has lost credibility after claiming responsibility for seemingly unrelated violence as it faces defeat on the battlefield in the Middle East.

The stabbing began early yesterday in Trappes, a poor town with a large Muslim population about 30km southwest of the capital.

Armed police responded to reports of violence and were threatened by the man, who stabbed his mother to death in her home, Collomb said.

“He walked toward the police with his knife,” he said. “Police then opened fire.”

The assailant has not yet been named.

Only a short drive from the wealthy area of Versailles, Trappes is known for its social problems linked to poverty, drugs and fundamentalist interpretations of Islam.

About 50 local residents are suspected of having left France to fight for the IS in Syria and Iraq, French security sources have said.

BFM TV said that the attacker had alcohol and drug problems.

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