A person known to the French authorities as a radical Islamist with mental health troubles on Saturday stabbed a German tourist to death and wounded two people in central Paris before being arrested, officials said.
The attack took place close to the Eiffel Tower during a busy weekend night and came with the country on its highest alert for attacks as tensions rise against the background of the war between Israel and Hamas.
“We will not give in to terrorism,” French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne wrote on X, formerly Twitter, after the attack.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he was sending his condolences to the family of a German killed in the “terrorist attack.”
French anti-terror prosecutors said that they would take over the investigation.
The attacker was known to authorities as a radical Islamist and was being treated for mental illness, French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin said at the scene by the River Seine, adding that the man had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) before being arrested.
He fatally stabbed the German tourist, born in 1999, with a knife and then used a hammer to attack others as he sought to escape on the other side of the River Seine.
The area by Pont de Bir-Hakeim, usually packed with tourists and locals, was cordoned off by police and bright with the flashing lights of security forces and emergency services.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said the attacker, born in 1997, is French and has been arrested in an investigation into murder and attempted murder.
Darmanin said the man had already been sentenced in 2016 to four years in prison for planning another attack, which he failed to carry out.
He left prison after in 2020 and was under surveillance and undergoing psychiatric treatment, the minister said.
“A man attacked a couple who were foreign tourists. A German tourist who was born in the Philippines died from the stabbing,” he said.
A taxi driver who witnessed the scene intervened, Darmanin said.
The attacker then crossed the Seine attacking others and injuring one with a hammer.
Police chased in pursuit and used an electroshock device to subdue the man, who was then arrested.
The suspect, who lived with his parents in the Esonnne region south of Paris, told police he could not stand Muslims being killed in “Afghanistan and Palestine,” Darmanin said.
Additional reporting by Associated Press
Joseph S., 37, a supermarket manager who asked not to give his last name, witnessed the scene, as he sat in a bar.
He said he heard screams and people shouting: “Help, help,” as they ran.
A man wielding an object attacked a man who had fallen down, and within 10 minutes the police arrived, he said.
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