Man in fake explosives vest killed amid high Paris tension

January 8, 2016 4:42 pm

 Police officers secure the perimeter near the scene of the fatal shooting. Photo / AP

Police shot and killed a man wearing a fake explosive vest who
threatened them with a butcher knife at a police station, a year
almost to the minute after two Islamic extremists burst into the offices
of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 11 people and
unleashing a bloody 12 months in the French capital.
The Paris
prosecutor’s anti-terrorism unit opened an investigation after police
found a cell phone, a piece of paper with an emblem of the Islamic State
group, and “an unequivocal written claim of responsibility in Arabic”
with the man’s body, the prosecutor’s office said. It did not provide
details about the claim.
has been under a state of
emergency since a series of attacks claimed by the Islamic State group
killed 130 people in Paris on Nov. 13, and tensions increased this week
as the anniversary of the January attacks approached. Soldiers were
posted in front of schools and security forces were more present than
usual amid a series of tributes to the dead.

Officials said the man shot to death Friday threatened
officers at the entrance of a police station near the Montmartre
neighborhood, home to the Sacre Coeur Cathedral. Just moments before,
French President Francois Hollande, speaking in a different location,
paid respects to officers fallen in the line of duty.
The man at
the police station is believed to have cried out “Allahu akbar,” Arabic
for “God is great.” He has not been identified, and Interior Ministry
spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told The Associated Press that police do
not believe anyone else was involved.

A police officer takes position after the fatal shooting. Photo / AP
A police officer takes position after the fatal shooting. Photo / AP
Alexis Mukenge, who saw the shooting from inside
another building, told the network iTele that police told the man,
“Stop. Move back.” Mukenge said officers fired twice and the man
immediately dropped to the ground.
Video shot from a window above
the station and provided to The Associated Press shows the man’s body
lying on the ground in a pool of blood, a bomb-detecting robot nearby.
The
Goutte d’Or neighborhood in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, a multi-ethnic
district not far from the Gare du Nord train station, was briefly locked
down, and two metro lines running through the area were halted. They
reopened after about two hours Thursday.
Two schools were under
lockdown, and police cleared out hundreds of people in the area. Shops
were ordered closed and shop owners hastily rolled down metal shutters.
Nora
Borrias was unable to get to her home in the neighborhood because of
the barricades. Shaken by the incident, she said “it’s like the Charlie
Hebdo affair isn’t over.”
Hollande had said earlier that a
“terrorist threat” would continue to weigh on France. The government has
announced new measures extending police powers to allow officers to use
their weapons to “neutralize someone who has just committed one or
several murders and is likely to repeat these crimes.”

A painting of killed cartoonists Charb , left, and Honore, Wolinski, Cabu, Charb and Tignous seen on a wall outside Charlie Hebdo former office, one year after the attacks. Photo / AP
A painting of killed cartoonists
Charb , left, and Honore, Wolinski, Cabu, Charb and Tignous seen on a
wall outside Charlie Hebdo former office, one year after the attacks.
Photo / AP
At 11:35 a.m. on January 7, 2015, two French-born
brothers killed 11 people at the building where Charlie Hebdo operated,
as well as a Muslim policeman outside. Over the next two days, an
accomplice shot a policewoman to death and then stormed a kosher
supermarket, killing four hostages. A total of 17 people died, as did
all three gunmen.
Hollande especially called for better
surveillance of “radicalised” citizens who have joined Islamic State or
other militant groups in Syria and Iraq when they return to France.
“We
must be able to force these people “and only these people” to fulfill
certain obligations and if necessary to put them under house arrest …
because they are dangerous,” he said.
Hollande said officers die in the line of duty “so that we can live free.”
Following
the January attacks, the government announced it planned to give police
better equipment and hire more intelligence agents.
France has
been on high alert ever since, and was struck again November 13 by
extremists in attacks that killed 130 people at a concert hall and in
bars and restaurants.
Survivors of the January attacks, meanwhile, are continuing to speak out.
Laurent
Sourisseau, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo and cartoonist who is
better known as Riss, told France Inter radio “security is a new expense
for the newspaper budget.”
“This past year we’ve had to invest
nearly 2 million euros to secure our office, which is an enormous sum,”
he said. “We have to spend hundreds of thousands on surveillance of our
offices, which wasn’t previously in Charlie’s budget, but we had an
obligation so that employees feel safe and can work safely.”
After
the attacks, people around the world embraced the expression “Je suis
Charlie” to express solidarity with the slain journalists, targeted for
the paper’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
“It’s a phrase
that was used during the march as a sign of emotion or resistance to
terrorism,” Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Corinne Rey ” known as Coco ” told
France Inter radio. “And little by little, I realized that ‘I am
Charlie’ was misused for so many things. And now I don’t really know
what it means.”

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