Europe

Paris Villejuif stabbings: Counter-terror unit takes on case

Police officers on scene in Villejuif shortly after stabbings Image copyright EPA
Image caption One person was killed and two others were injured in the stabbing on Friday

Counter-terror prosecutors are investigating a knife attack carried out near Paris on Friday, the French Ministry of Justice said.

A man named only as Nathan C stabbed a man to death and injured two people, before being shot dead by police.

Officials said he had a history of severe mental illness.

But prosecutors said on Saturday that "an act of terrorism cannot be ruled out just because a person has psychiatric problems".

Philippe Bugeaud, deputy director of the regional judicial police, said there were a number of religious books in the 22-year-old attacker's bag, "some of which we can classify as being Salafist".

Local prosecutor Laure Beccuau said her department was working closely with the national anti-terrorism unit on the investigation.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Laure Beccuau, left, and Philippe Bugeaud said that terrorism has not been ruled out as a motive

A press release from France's Ministry of Justice also confirmed that the national anti-terrorism department was investigating the case.

It said investigations have "established a certain radicalisation of the accused", adding: "These new elements justify the investigation continuing into the counts of murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise."

Prosecutors also confirmed that the attacker had a history of psychiatric problems, for which he had been admitted to hospital.

Ms Beccuau said he had last left hospital in May 2019, and that a month later he stopped taking his medication.

The attack took place on Friday at about 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT) at Hautes-Bruyères park.

Officers chased the perpetrator, before shooting him dead.

The mayor of Villejuif, Franck Le Bohellec, said the man who was stabbed to death was a 56-year-old who had been out walking in the park with his wife.

He died trying to protect her, the mayor said. She was seriously injured.

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