A German tourist was killed and a British man was among those wounded in a knife attack in Paris on Sunday night. The assailant, who was shot dead by police, is believed to have been suffering from mental health issues.
The attack took place around 8:30 pm local time near the Eiffel Tower, in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. According to witnesses, the attacker was shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and randomly stabbing people on the street. He was armed with a kitchen knife and a pair of scissors.
The German tourist, a 40-year-old woman, was stabbed in the chest and died at the scene. The British man, a 23-year-old student, was stabbed in the head and taken to hospital. His condition is not life-threatening. Three other people, including a French woman and two men from Sri Lanka and Algeria, were also injured in the attack.
The attacker, a 31-year-old man of Pakistani origin, was shot by police officers who arrived at the scene. He was taken to hospital in a critical condition and later pronounced dead. He was known to the police for minor offences and had a history of psychiatric problems. He had been living in a hotel in the 18th arrondissement of Paris since September.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the attack, which is being treated as a terrorist incident. The anti-terrorism unit of the French police is in charge of the probe, which will examine the attacker’s motives, background and possible links to extremist groups.
The French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said the attack was “obviously” an act of Islamist terrorism and praised the police for their “remarkable” intervention. He also said that the security level in France would remain high, especially during the Christmas period.
The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, expressed his condolences to the family of the victim and said he was “shocked” by the attack. He said Germany stood in solidarity with France in the fight against terrorism. The British embassy in Paris said it was in contact with the French authorities and providing consular assistance to the injured British national.
The attack comes amid a heightened state of alert in France, following a series of Islamist attacks in recent months. In October, a teacher was beheaded by a Chechen refugee for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression. In November, three people were killed by a Tunisian migrant in a church in Nice. In both cases, the attackers claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group.
France has been a target of Islamist terrorism since 2015, when gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in coordinated attacks in Paris. Since then, more than 250 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in various attacks across the country.
France has also been facing a wave of protests and tensions over a controversial bill that would restrict the publication of images of police officers and expand the use of surveillance tools. The bill has been criticized by human rights groups, journalists and opposition parties as a threat to civil liberties and freedom of expression.