A French soldier on anti-terror duty in the La Defense business district of Paris has been stabbed in the throat by an unidentified attacker who then fled. The Interior Ministry said his wounds were not life-threatening.
The 23-year-old French soldier was attacked late on Saturday afternoon by an assailant who immediately fled the scene. The as yet unnamed soldier was armed and in uniform, he was apparently jumped from behind. He was on patrol in the La Defense district of Paris, a vibrant center for weekend shopping in the capital.
Police sources and the Interior Ministry both said that the soldier appeared set to survive the attack, while Defense Minister Yves le Drian paid the wounded man a visit in hospital. The French authorities also said investigations would be helped by closed circuit television security cameras, which apparently captured the incident.
French President Francois Hollande, currently in Ethiopia marking the 50th anniversary of the African Union, told reporters that he was not yet aware of any connection to Wednesday’s killing of a British soldier in London.
“We still do not know the exact circumstances of the attack or the identity of the attacker, but we are looking at all options,” Hollande said. “I do not think that at this stage a link can be made” to Wednesday’s attack in the British capital.
Waiting for more information
Interior Minister Manuel Valls took a similar tack, acknowledging the apparent similarities but also urging people to wait for conclusive information.
“There are elements – the sudden violence of the attack – that could lead one to believe there might be a comparison with what happened in London,” Valls said on France 2 television. “But at this point, honestly, let us be prudent.”
The British soldier, 25-year-old Lee Rigby, was attacked near the Royal Artillery barracks in Woolwich, south London. Rigby’s killers stayed on the scene, waiting for police and talking to passers-by, calling their attack revenge for British military operations in Muslim countries. They were shot in the legs and detained, according to witness accounts. Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Abedowale, 22, are under armed guard receiving treatment in hospital; their condition is stable.
Counter-terrorism police in England on Saturday arrested three further people in connection with Rigby’s murder, taking the complete tally to eight. Two of them have since been released without charge, six remain in custody.
msh/mr (AFP, AP, dpa)