Police say they have arrested one suspect, and found a blade and suspicious package near the scene. The attack coincides with the start of a trial for the alleged accomplices in a 2015 attack on the magazine’s offices.
Four people were wounded, two seriously, after a knife attack near the former offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, French police said on Friday. Police cordoned off the area after a suspicious package was spotted.
A Paris police official said that while authorities initially thought two attackers were involved, they now believe it was only one person, who was later arrested near the Bastille plaza in eastern Paris.
A blade was found at the scene, two police sources told Reuters. One described it as a machete, and the other called it a meat cleaver. Local authorities have asked people to avoid the area. No explosives were found in the suspicious package near the scene, officials said.
Following the attack, Prime Minister Jean Castex cut short a visit to a suburb north of Paris, and the city’s metro closed lines in the area.
The motive for the attack is unclear, however, and it was not clear whether it can be linked to the trial. But after several high-profile attacks in the country recent years, DW’s Paris correspondent Lisa Louis said France was still on edge.
“I talked to a policeman, who told me they were not looking into big plots at the moment, but rather at lone wolves who might attack people in the streets,” she said.
“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,” one witness told Europe 1 radio. “I saw a second neighbour on the floor and I went to help.”
Stabbing coincides with start of trial
This week, a trial got underway in Paris for the alleged accomplices in a January 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices, which left 12 people dead. Fourteen people, including three fugitives, are on trial, while the widows of the attackers are scheduled to testify on Friday afternoon.
Earlier this month, Charlie Hebdo also announced that it would republish cartoons of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad to mark the beginning of the trial.