Two people have been hurt in a knife attack close to the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, police have confirmed. One assailant has been arrested and a counterterrorism probe has been launched to determine the motivation behind the violence.
A major trial is taking place in the French capital over the deadly terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices in 2015, in which Islamist extremists burst into the building with rifles and killed 12 people. However, it’s not clear if Friday morning’s violence had any link to Charlie Hebdo, which moved offices after the deadly attacks five years ago.
The two wounded people are said by officials to be in “absolutely urgent” condition. Police have said one suspect in the attack was detained after he fled the scene on foot and was caught near the Bastille plaza. According to the Associated Press, France’s counterterrorism prosecutor’s office confirmed shortly after the attacks that it had opened up an investigation into “attempted murder in relation with a terrorist enterprise.”
One eyewitness to Friday morning’s stabbing attacks reportedly told local radio: “I was in my office. I heard screams in the road. I looked out of the window and saw a woman who was lying on the floor and had taken a whack in the face from what was possibly a machete.”
The Paris Police Prefecture urged Parisians to stay away from the Richard Lenoir area until it confirms the situation is under control. Hordes of officers were seen rushing toward the scene. Police initially reported that four people had been hurt, but that was downgraded to two.
Police cordoned off a large area, including the former Charlie Hebdo offices, due to a suspect package being discovered nearby. However, it was reported that no explosives were found upon inspection.
The NYPD’s counterterrorism bureau wrote: “We are closely monitoring a possible terrorist attack near the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France. There is no known nexus to New York City at this time.”