A man on the list of potential terrorist threats attacked a policewoman with a knife on Friday in western France, leaving the officer in serious condition – the assailant was eventually killed by security forces.
The case took place in Chapelle-sur-Erdre, a town of 20,000 inhabitants near Nantes. Besides the policeman in serious condition, two other officers were injured during the siege of the suspect, but none of the three is in danger of death, according to local authorities.
This Tuesday morning, the man, aged about 40, went to the Chapelle-sur-Erdressa police station alleging a problem with his vehicle and, when he got there, attacked the policewoman with a knife – she said was injured in the leg. He then stole the victim’s pistol and fled, first in a car, then on foot.
Authorities sent 250 police officers and two helicopters to search for him. Local schools were closed and students remained confined indoors, a city official said.
After finding the assailant, he shot the police, who retaliated. In the exchange of gunfire, the man was killed.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the assailant spent eight years in prison for committing a violent crime (he did not disclose exactly what it was) and was released in March .
According to him, the perpetrator was born in France, was a Muslim and became radicalized during his stay in prison. That’s why he ended up on the watch list, which includes people who the security forces say have the potential to carry out attacks.
Despite this, Darmanin said that it is not possible to say at this time whether this was indeed a terrorist act and that, at least initially, the unit investigating this type of action should not. not participate in the case. The minister also revealed that the man had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The debate on terrorism should be one of the main themes of the next French presidential election, which will take place in April of next year.
Thus, several pre-candidates mentioned the attack on Friday. “I am grateful to the police who subjugated the author of this unbearable act,” said curator Xavier Bertrand, one of the names likely to be in the 2022 competition.
“I refuse to allow attacks on our security forces to become our daily routine. We must fight this barbarism once and for all and never get used to it, absolutely never,” said the country’s ultra-right leader. and one of the main candidates for the election, Marine Le Pen.
Friday’s action is just the latest in a long list of similar episodes against security forces in France in recent months. Against this backdrop, last week thousands of police gathered in central Paris to demand tougher penalties for the attacks.
Earlier this month, Constable Eric Masson was killed during a drug operation in the town of Aviñón, in southern France. And in April, Stéphanie Monfeture, a policewoman, was murdered in a knife attack on a police station in the city of Rambouillet, in the southern suburbs of Paris.
In another incident, in October 2019, at the Paris police headquarters, an employee killed three police officers and a person from the administrative sector with a knife, before being shot.