PARIS – European security officials warned of an increased risk of Islamist attacks as the war between Israel and Hamas raged on, with “lone wolf” assailants posing the greatest challenge to prevent.
A man wielding a knife and a hammer killed a German tourist and injured two others, one of them a British citizen, near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Saturday, in what President Emmanuel Macron called a “terrorist” act.
The 26-year-old attacker, a French national who had been sentenced in 2016 for planning another attack and was on a security watch list, was subdued by police with a Taser stun gun, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Saturday.
The minister added that the man had mental health issues.
The assailant stabbed a tourist couple on the Quai de Grenelle, a promenade along the Seine river close to the Eiffel Tower, on Saturday evening, fatally wounding the German man.
He then fled from the police and struck two other people with a hammer, including the Briton, before being captured.
The British foreign ministry said it was assisting the injured British national and liaising with the local authorities.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on X that he was “shocked” by the attack.
The attacker yelled “Allahu akbar” (God is Greatest) and told the police that he was enraged by the deaths of Muslims in Afghanistan and Palestine and the situation in Gaza, Darmanin said.
The anti-terrorism branch of the French prosecutor’s office took charge of the investigation and will hold a press conference later on Sunday.
Macron expressed his condolences to the family and friends of the German victim and his sympathy for the wounded on the social media platform X.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne vowed to stand firm against terrorism, saying on X: “We will not give in to terrorism.”
France has been on high alert since October, when a man of Chechen origin with a knife murdered a teacher in a school in northern France.
OLYMPIC SECURITY CONCERNS The attack in central Paris raised concerns about the security of the Olympic Games, which the French capital is set to host in less than eight months.
The city planned an opening ceremony on the Seine river that could draw up to 600,000 spectators.
Critics of Macron were quick to react.
Jordan Bardella, leader of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party, the biggest opposition party in parliament, said on X: “The French will question how a man on a watch list who had been convicted of plotting an attack, who was a known psychiatric case, could roam freely and armed on a Saturday evening in the streets of Paris”
Didier Fleury, a 63-year old businessman who lives near the site of the attack, told Reuters: “You can’t be totally surprised by that, given the current news. These are random attacks, so they are very hard to stop. We will likely have more. The holiday season is coming and, sadly, I fear this won’t be the last one.”