Tourist dies in knife attack near Eiffel Tower in Paris

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A French man suspected of killing a German-Filipino tourist with a knife and wounding two other people in Paris on Saturday had pledged allegiance to Islamic State, according to officials.

French authorities said they were investigating the killing near the Eiffel Tower as a terrorist attack.

France has been on high alert in recent weeks after ratcheting up its security level against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war. Paris is due to host the Olympic Games in July next year.

The suspect, a 26-year-old French man who was arrested after police intervened with tasers, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a video on social media before the attack, the public prosecutor for anti-terrorism Jean-François Ricard said.

The suspect had been convicted in 2018 of intent to commit a terror attack and was known to have wanted to travel to Iraq or Syria a few years earlier, Ricard told a news conference.

He was released from prison in 2020, and had a record of psychiatric problems for which he received treatment.

“He came from a family which was not engaged at all religiously, converted to Islam at 18 in 2015 and rapidly turned to jihadi ideology,” Ricard said.

The suspect first attacked a couple near the Eiffel Tower on Saturday evening, fatally stabbing the German-Filipino tourist, according to officials.

He then assaulted a French man and British woman with a hammer, before being stopped by police, the officials said. The two injured people have been released from hospital, Ricard said.

The suspect had told police he could no longer stand seeing Muslims die in Gaza, French interior minister Gérald Darmanin said.

“He told police who had just arrested him that he could no longer bear . . . to see Muslims die, in Afghanistan and in Palestine,” Darmanin told reporters.

He confirmed the suspect, who was born in the wealthy Parisian suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, was on a police watchlist.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on social media site X: “I’m addressing all my condolences to the family and loved one of the German national who died . . . in the terror attack in Paris.”

Macron was in Qatar over the weekend, where he was engaged in talks to try to renew a truce in the Israel-Hamas war, as well as pursue a long-term ceasefire.

France raised its security level to the highest possible in October after a knifeman of Chechen origin killed a teacher in a school in the northern city of Arras. The attack was condemned by Macron at the time as “barbaric Islamist terrorism”.

The government has warned that the war between Israel and Hamas could encourage radicalised individuals in France to carry out attacks.

Hundreds of antisemitic incidents have also been registered by police in France since the start of the war. The authorities have been on high alert to protect the country’s Jewish community, the largest in Europe.

Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock condemned the attack in Paris. “Hate and terror have no place in Europe,” she said on X.

The attack happened by the banks of the river Seine, in an area often visited by tourists for views of the city at night.

“Just ahead of the Olympic Games it’s a strong symbol . . . to attack Paris, the French capital, and the Eiffel Tower,” said Jérémy Redler, mayor of the 16th arrondissement where the later part of the attacks took place, on BFM TV.

The attack has prompted some criticism of Macron and his government, including from far-right politician Jordan Bardella.

“The suspect . . . was not only on a radicalisation watchlist, but had also been in prison,” Bardella said. “We need more than just words.”

Additional reporting by Patricia Nilsson in Frankfurt

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