Paris police attack: Four killed by knife-wielding employee


Officers set up a security perimeter near Paris police headquarters after a knife attack, 3 October 2019Image copyright
EPA

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Police and security forces have cordoned off the area in central Paris

A knife-wielding employee has killed four fellow members of staff at police headquarters in the centre of the French capital, Paris.

The attacker, who has not been named, was later shot dead by police.

Witnesses described scenes of panic, with many people fleeing the building in tears. The area in the île de la Cité has been sealed off.

The attack comes a day after police went on strike across France over increasing violence towards officers.

There has been no official statement so far on a possible motive for the attack.

However, police union officials have suggested the attacker may have been involved in a workplace dispute.

What happened?

At about 13:00 local time (11:00 GMT; 12:00 BST), the attacker is said to have gone into the building and straight to his office where he began attacking colleagues with a knife.

He stabbed three people inside two offices and two women on a stairway, before he was shot dead by an officer inside the building’s courtyard, according to French media.

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Media captionThe scene of the attack was quickly cordoned off by police

Three men and one woman were killed, all either officers or administrative staff, the Paris prosecutor, Remy Heitz, told reporters

A second woman was injured in the attack. The building is near major tourist sites including the Notre-Dame cathedral.

“Police were running around in panic,” a witness who was inside the courtyard at the time of the attack told Le Parisien newspaper.

“I was surprised to hear shooting because this is not a place where you hear that kind of thing. I first thought it was a suicide because there are a lot of those at the moment,” he added.

President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner have all gone to the site.

Who was the attacker?

According to the interior minister, he was a 45-year-old IT specialist who had worked for the Paris police force for 16 years.

Officials said he had been working in the force’s intelligence division.

Mr Castaner said there had been no warning signs about the attacker, adding: “On the face of it, he looked a model employee.”

A search of his home in the north of Paris is currently under way.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Paris police headquarters is located in the heart of Paris

There were tensions between the knifeman and his supervisor, according to police union official Christophe Crepin.

“I do not think this is a terrorist act,” Mr Crepin, who knew the attacker, told Franceinfo Radio.

Police union leader Jean-Marc Bailleul described it as a criminal act, telling BFMTV: “It was a moment of madness.”

The attack follows a rare nationwide police strike on Wednesday, which saw thousands of officers demonstrating in Paris over working hours, shortages in resources and controversial pension reforms.

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Media captionFrench police get angry over working conditions and suicide rates

Police unions say there have been more than 50 suicides by police officers since the start of the year.

They blame the rising numbers on difficult working conditions and increasing violence towards police.



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