Two stabbed near the former offices of Charlie Hebdo, France opens an anti-terrorist investigation

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PARIS (Reuters) – France has opened a counterterrorism investigation after two journalists were stabbed in Paris on Friday near the former offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which was attacked by Islamist activists in 2015.

Forensic experts work at the scene of a knife attack near the former offices of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, France on September 25, 2020. REUTERS / Gonzalo Fuentes

Prime Minister Jean Castex, who rushed to the scene, said the main attacker had been arrested. A second person was also in detention.

“I was in my office. I heard screams on the road. I looked out the window and saw a woman who was lying on the ground and who had taken a blow to the face from what was perhaps a machete, ”a witness told Europe 1 radio.

Another neighbor, who heard the attack, told Reuters that there was a long cry of death from a “person screaming and screaming.”

Castex said the two injured were randomly attacked during a cigarette break. Neither’s life was in danger, he said.

“This attack took place in a symbolic place at the time when the trial of the terrible attacks on Charlie Hebdo took place,” he said.

Europe 1 radio quoted police officials as saying the main suspect was 18, known to the security services and born in Pakistan.

A police source said a machete was found at the scene. Another police source said a meat cleaver was found there.

The National Counterterrorism Prosecutor’s Office said it was investigating the case.

TRIAL IN PROGRESS

Fourteen people were tried in Paris on September 2, accused of being complicit in the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in January 2015 which left 12 dead.

The court heard they had sought revenge on the Prophet Muhammad, nearly a decade after the weekly cartoons published mocking him.

Police moved Charlie Hebdo’s human resources manager from his home this week after threats to his life.

TV footage on Friday showed ambulances, fire trucks and police cordoning the area around the former Charlie Hebdo offices.

Images on social media showed a person walking away.

Paul Moreira, a journalist with multimedia production company Premiere Ligne, told BFM TV that two of his colleagues were injured.

“It was someone who was on the road with a meat cleaver who attacked them in front of our offices. It was scary, ”he says.

The Paris metro closed lines in the area and schoolchildren were initially kept indoors in an area around the attack, a city hall official said.

France has seen a wave of attacks by militant Islamists in recent years.

Bombings and shootings in November 2015 at the Bataclan theater and other sites around Paris killed 130 people, and in July 2016, an Islamist activist drove a truck through a crowd celebrating July 14 in Nice, killing 86 people.

Reporting by Henri-Pierre André, Mathieu Protard, Bertrand Boucey, Emilie Delwarde and John Irish; Written by John Irish; Edited by Toby Chopra and Timothy Heritage

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