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France: Teacher killed in school stabbing, terror attack suspected

The student reportedly shouted 'Allahu Akbar' proceeding with the stabbing attack, according to a police officer. The attack comes amid heightened tensions between France's Jewish and Muslim populations over the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas that has claimed hundreds of lives.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Paris Published on: October 13, 2023 17:54 IST
Police block the area where a teacher was killed by a man
Image Source : AP Police block the area where a teacher was killed by a man in France

In a possible terror attack in France, a man armed with a knife stabbed a teacher to death and injured two others on Friday in a French high school. The incident took place in the Gambetta High School in the city of Arras, 185 km north of Paris.

Authorities are investigating the incident as potential terrorism. Silman Hamzi, a police officer who arrived first on the scene, said that the attacker was a former student of the school and shouted 'Allahu Akbar' as he initiated the attack.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that the suspected attacker had been arrested. The deceased victim was a French language teacher. The injured persons included a teacher and a security guard, BBC reported. 

Meanwhile, the accused's brother has also been arrested. The accused, reportedly in his 20s, is of Chechen origin and is known for his involvement with radical Islam. The situation has now been brought under control.

Hamzi said that he was alerted by another officer who called in while passing in front of the school. "He was shouting 'someone is attacking with a knife'," said the officer. Hamzi then rushed to the school and found the victim dying and the attacker being taken away.

resident Emmanuel Macron was heading to the scene along with the interior and education ministers, and the government asked authorities to heighten vigilance at all schools across France.

School attacks in France

Such types of attacks in French schools are rare. The motive for this particular incident has not come to light as of now. This attack comes nearly three years after a teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded by a man outside a school for showing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad to his students. The attacker was later shot dead by police.

The latest attack came amid heightened tensions around the world and in France over Hamas’ weekend attack on southern Israel and Israel’s military response, which has killed hundreds of civilians on both sides.

Notably, France has the world's third-largest Jewish population after Israel and the United States, and the largest Muslim population in Western Europe. Darmanin has banned pro-Palestinian protests due to unrest over the Israel-Hamas war and the rise in anti-semitic activities across the country.

Darmanin directed local authorities to further tighten security around Jewish schools, synagogues and other sites and said that pro-Palestinian demonstrations should be banned, and people who defy the ban to be arrested as they are "susceptible to disrupt public order".

The Macron government registered 24 arrests for over 100 anti-semitic actions in France since the Hamas attack on Saturday. Some people have been caught with knives near Jewish schools and a drone was spotted over a Jewish cultural centre. Over 2,000 cases of anti-semitic speech have been reported to an online watchdog force.

Notably, Macron said that 13 French citizens have been killed in Israel by the Hamas attack and 17 others are missing, believed to be captured and taken hostage by militants. An investigation has been launched by the Paris prosecutor's office into the suspected kidnappings.

(with AP inputs)

ALSO READ | France bans pro-Palestinian protests amid rise in anti-semitic acts as Israel-Hamas war rages on

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