“The Avignon attacker is an anti-Muslim extremist”

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PARISA man who was shot dead by police in the French city of Avignon after approaching passers-by is suspected of belonging to a far-right anti-Muslim group, local media reported on Friday.

The suspect was killed on Thursday shortly after 11 am (1000GMT) in the Montfavet district, in the south of the city. He was seen wielding a handgun in the street and allegedly threatened a North African trader.

The police approached and asked the man to drop his gun, using a flash ball to subdue him. Officers shot the suspect after he failed to comply.

The first reports Thursday in local and international media falsely claimed that the suspect was an “Islamist” who shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) in the street.

Police sources told the French daily Le Figaro that the suspect had undergone psychiatric treatment and was suspected of being a member of the far-right group Generation Identitaire.

However, prosecutors have ruled out terrorism as a possible motive.

Generation Identitaire is the French branch of the anti-migrant and xenophobic group Generation Identity, which has attracted young people through social media, exploiting fears of refugees and terrorism.

Its main members have propagated white supremacist ideas and anti-Muslim and racist conspiracy theories.

According to local media, the 33-year-old suspect was wearing a neo-Nazi jacket with a “Defend Europe” logo.

Thursday saw two other terrorist incidents on French territory, as well as one abroad, the latest in a series of violence to take hold of the country in recent months.

A brutal attack took place Thursday morning in Nice with the fatal stabbing of two women and a man at the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption basilica. One of the women was beheaded. Police arrested the assailant, who remains in hospital with gunshot wounds.

At the scene of the attack, President Emmanuel Macron called the incident “an Islamist terrorist attack”.

Leaders of the Muslim community in France have condemned the recent terrorist attacks, stressing that extremists abuse religion for their purposes and their actions cannot be justified by Islam.

Also Thursday, another man wielding a knife was arrested in Lyon near Perrache station.

Another man attacked a security guard with a knife at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, resulting in injuries.

The national anti-terrorism prosecution has opened an investigation and Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday placed France on anti-terrorism alert at the emergency level.
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