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Paris police gun down assailant on Charlie Hebdo anniversary

Paris police gun down assailant on Charlie Hebdo anniversary

PARIS: A man wielding a meat cleaver and carrying emblem of the militant Islamic State (IS) group was shot dead as he tried to attack a police station on Thursday, a year to the day since gunmen killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo magazine.

The man tried to enter the building in the northern 18th district of the French capital wearing what was at first thought to be an explosives vest, but was later found to be a fake one.

News of the incident came just after President Francois Hollande concluded a speech at police headquarters to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Paris office of the controversial Charlie Hebdo magazine on January 7 last year.

“On Thursday morning, a man attempted to attack a policeman at the reception of the police station before being hit by shots from the police,” Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

The prosecutor investigating the case said the man was found to be carrying “a mobile phone and a piece of paper on which the flag of Daesh was printed, as well as an unequivocal claim handwritten in Arabic”. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for IS.

Explosives experts were sent to the scene in the largely north African district of Goutte d’Or, close to the tourist hotspot of Montmartre.

The man was found to have been wearing a pouch under his coat with a wire hanging from it, but the device “contained no explosives”, a source close to the investigation said.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised the “remarkable work” of the security forces in the incident. “In a country where the level of threat is extremely high, the police, gendarmes, the security forces... are in the frontline,” he said.

With France still grieving after the massacre of 130 people by militants in Paris in November, Mr Hollande used his speech to call for greater cooperation between the security services to thwart attacks.

“Faced with these adversaries, it is essential that every service — police, gendarmerie, intelligence, military — work in perfect harmony, with the greatest transparency, and that they share all the information at their disposal,” the president said.

Many of the assailants in both January’s rampage and the attacks in November were known to French security services, having either travelled abroad to fight with militants or been blocked from doing so.

President Hollande said that since the attack on Charlie Hebdo, nearly 200 people in France had been placed under travel restrictions to prevent them from joining up with IS in Syria or Iraq.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2016

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