Man shot, wounded after attacking soldiers outside Louvre

Man shot, wounded after attacking soldiers outside Louvre

PARIS — A knife-wielding man shouting “Allahu akbar” attacked French soldiers on patrol near the Louvre Museum Friday in what officials described as a suspected terror attack. The soldiers first tried to fight off the attacker and then opened fire, shooting him five times.

The attack at an entrance to a shopping mall that extends beneath the museum sowed panic and again highlighted the threat French officials say hangs over the country, which was hit repeatedly by extremist attacks in 2015 and 2016.

A police union official said the attacker was carrying two backpacks and had two machetes. He said the man launched himself at the soldiers when they told him that he couldn’t bring his bags into the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall underneath the world-famous museum where the “Mona Lisa” hangs and which went into emergency lock-down.

“That’s when he got the knife out and that’s when he tried to stab the soldier,” said the official, Yves Lefebvre.

The four soldiers first tried to fight off the attacker before opening fire, said Benoit Brulon, a spokesman for the military force that patrols Paris and its major tourist attractions. President Francois Hollande praised the troops’ “courage and determination.”

Anti-terrorism prosecutors took charge of the investigation. There were no immediate details about the identity of the attacker. “Allahu akbar” is the Arabic phrase for “God is great.”

The military patrols — numbering about 3,500 soldiers in the Paris area — were instituted following the January 2015 attacks on Paris’ satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and reinforced after Nov. 13 suicide bomb and gun attacks that left 130 people dead at the city’s Bataclan concert hall and other sites.

Friday’s attacker slightly injured one of the soldiers, in the scalp, officials said. Another soldier opened fire, gravely wounding the attacker.

“He is wounded in the stomach,” said police chief Michel Cadot. “He is conscious and he was moving.”

Checks of the man’s two backpacks found they didn’t contain explosives, he said.

Cadot said a second person who was “acting suspiciously” also was arrested, but appears not to have been linked to the attack.

Restaurant worker Sanae Hadraoui, 32, was waiting for breakfast at the Louvre’s restaurant complex when she heard the first gunshot, followed by another and then a couple more.

“I hear a shot. Then a second shot. Then maybe two more. I hear people screaming, “Evacuate! Evacuate!”

“They told us to evacuate. I told my colleagues at the McDonald’s. We went downstairs and then took the emergency exit.”

Hadraoui, who has worked at the Louvre for seven years, said the evacuation was orderly.

The museum in the centre of Paris is one of the French capital’s biggest tourist attractions. Police sealed off entrances and closed the area to vehicles, snarling traffic, and shooed away confused tourists.

The Louvre’s security protocol kicked in, with entrances locked down and visitors who came to admire the paintings and sculptures shepherded into rooms without windows.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said about 1,000 people were inside and were held in safe areas before the all-clear was given.

Conor Bakhuizen, 18, who was in the museum on a school trip, said his group was “rushed upstairs really suddenly” and kept in a safe room before they were later slowly let out.

The attack’s timing was poor for Paris, coming just hours before the city was unveiling its completed bid for the 2024 Olympics. Paris is competing against Budapest and Los Angeles for the games, which it hasn’t hosted since 1924. With the International Olympic Committee choosing the host in September, Friday’s attack generated renewed questions about security in the City of Light.

Speaking outside the Louvre, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said terrorism threatens all of the world’s big cities and “there is not a single one escaping that menace.”

The speed with which Paris largely went back to normal after the attack, with officers gradually dismantling barricades and pulling down police tape around the Louvre some three hours later, underscored how the French city has — unwillingly but stoically — been forced to learn to live with the extremist threat. Within hours, French radio stations went back to talking about storms battering the west coast and school holiday traffic.

Exterminator Olivier Majewski says he was just leaving his scooter in the parking lot beneath the Louvre when he saw a crush of people running and screaming “there’s been a terror attack.”

“They were panicked,” he said.

The 53-year-old hid for about 15 minutes before gingerly making his way upstairs.

John Leicester, Raphael Satter And Angela Charlton, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Hang glider pilot rescued from Pincushion Mountain

Pilot was able to help guide rescue crews to her location

Car accident on Leckie Road backs up traffic

An accident involving a bus is blocking traffic driving near Dilworth Mountain

Top Okanagan wedding venue no longer allows wedding ceremonies

Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park and Kaloya Regional Park will no longer allow the ceremonies

Okanagan College has new entrepaneur-in-residence

Jason Richards, has been involved in a number of start-ups over his career

Kelowna Pride Society looks for community feedback

The society is already planning this year’s festivities

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of B.C. overpass

Dash cam footage shows vehicle speeding across Brunette Avenue overpass in Coquitlam

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Most Read