French prosecutors have opened a terror inquiry after a police employee was fatally stabbed by a suspected Islamist extremist as the employee walked into a police station in a Paris commuter town Friday.
The victim, identified by President Emmanuel Macron as Stephanie, was stabbed in the throat, two security sources told Reuters.
During the attack, the suspect allegedly shouted “Allahu Akbar,” an Arabic phrase meaning “God is great,” and was shot dead by police.
The suspect was a Tunisian national who lived in France with a residency card set to expire later this year.
France’s national anti-terrorism prosecutors said a terror investigation was opened to look into “the murder of a person holding public authority,” France 24 reported.
Chief anti-terror prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said the attacker’s words indicated a terror motive.
Macron tweeted France stands with the victim’s family, friends and colleagues.
Elle était policière. Stéphanie a été tuée dans son commissariat de Rambouillet, sur les terres déjà meurtries des Yvelines. La Nation est aux côtés de sa famille, de ses collègues et des forces de l’ordre. Du combat engagé contre le terrorisme islamiste, nous ne céderons rien.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 23, 2021
“We will stop at nothing in our resolute fight against Islamist terrorism,” a translation of his tweet reads.
“France has lost one of its everyday heroines in a barbaric gesture of infinite cowardice,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex told reporters, according to NBC News. “To her loved ones, I want to express the support of the whole nation. To our security forces, I want to say that I share their emotion and their indignation.”
Friday’s attack was the latest in a series of attacks by Islamist extremists or Islamist-inspired individuals that have killed about 250 people in recent years, according to Reuters.
In one incident six months ago, a Chechen refugee beheaded a school teacher in Conflans, France.
In an October 2019 attack against French police, three officers and an employee were stabbed to death by an IT colleague who had shown interest in radical Islam, according to France 24.
The string of Islamist extremist attacks began in 2015 with the massacre of staff working at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Later that year, 130 people were killed and 350 were wounded when gunmen and Islamist suicide bombers attacked Bataclan concert hall and the Stade de France, as well as bars and restaurants in central Paris.
Curbing religious extremism and domestic security are likely to be important issues in France’s 2022 presidential election.
Marine Le Pen, Macron’s strongest challenger, called for more protection for police after Friday’s attack.
“We must come back to reason: support the police, expel illegal immigrants, eradicate Islamism,” a translation of her tweet said.
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