By: Bridie Beamish
In an unprovoked attack on Jan. 11 at the Gare du Nord train station in Paris, an unidentified perpetrator wounded six, including a border police officer, in a series of violent stabbings. Within one minute of the attack, which occurred around 6:45 AM, two police officers fired three total shots at the perpetrator. These shots struck him in the chest and right arm, neutralizing the threat.
As of Jan. 12, authorities are unsure of the man’s motives, though they determined that the assailant wielded a sharpened metal hook. As the man is in critical condition due to his gun wounds, police are currently unable to question him. Though none of the victims’ injuries are life-threatening, five sustained light injuries, and the perpetrator seriously injured one in the shoulder blade. Currently, authorities are not labeling the incident as a terrorist attack. However, Prosecutor Laure Beccuau described the assault as highly violent; the attacker stabbed his first victim at least 20 times. The French national railway company also reported that the incident resulted in severe disruptions to train services at Gare du Nord, one of Paris’ busiest train stations, during the morning rush hour.
Describing the event, a witness said, “Everyone started to run all over the place and to shout. Others tried to subdue the man, but he seemed very aggressive and attacked anyone who tried to stop him.” She added, “We were shaken. When you think about it, it could have been us because [we] were just two meters away.” Minister of the Interior of France Gérald Darmanin thanked the police for their courageous efforts and declared, “Without the extremely rapid intervention, there would surely be deaths.”
When testing for fingerprints, Beccuau stated that the attacker’s prints matched several aliases recorded in police databases, but she did not mention any details about a criminal record. She also did not comment on anonymous sources claiming the perpetrator had been ordered to leave the country last summer. Beccuau further claimed the assailant appeared to be from Libya or Algeria and in his 20s.
The violent stabbings follow an increase in bloody terrorist attacks in France, leaving the French fearful. Though these attacks haven’t necessarily been making headlines, the police report that officers and intelligence services are often foiling violent plots. Last month Darmanin announced that, since 2017, authorities have prevented 39 Islamist attacks and nine far-right attacks, yet many French residents remain anxious for fear of more violence.
(Sources: LA Times, NBC, NY Times)
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