The assailant who carried out an attack on a French police officer outside Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday has pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a video, reported AFP on Wednesday. The policeman’s colleague opened fire on the man, hitting him in the chest. Before being shot and wounded by officers, the attacker had shouted “This is for Syria!”
“A person came up behind the police officers, armed with a hammer, and started to hit the police officer,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters. A hammer and kitchen knives were found on the assailant.
Earlier today, government spokesman Christophe Castaner had said the incident was an “isolated act” and the attacker “never showed any sign of radicalisation.” He had also added that the investigation was at a preliminary stage. Castaner said it “is very difficult to anticipate” attacks when they were staged by people who were not on the police radar.
On Tuesday, a 40-year-old Algerian had threatened police officers with a hammer and refused to stop. The suspect was reportedly a doctoral student in information science at a university in the east of France. A 22-year-old officer sustained minor neck injuries in the assault.
Authorities had asked people to stay away from the area and some took refuge inside the cathedral. Among the several hundred people ordered to remain inside the cathedral was a former US ambassador to the United Nations, Nancy Soderberg. “It was really scary. We had no idea if there were any accomplices inside,” she told Associated Press.
The attack came the day before new President Emmanuel Macron is likely to unveil his first efforts against terrorism. A series of Islamic extremist attacks in recent years have put Paris on under high security.