A suspected terrorist reportedly wearing a “fake explosive vest” was shot dead by French police Friday after stabbing multiple people, one of whom died from the wounds. Witnesses said they heard the attacker cry “Allahu Akbar” during the rampage, reports say. Video has since emerged of police confronting the attacker.
The attack, which began at around 2 p.m. Friday at the Hautes-Bruyères park in Villejuif, about 5 miles south of Paris, involved at least four victims, one of whom died and two of whom were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment after suffering serious injuries. Police say they chased the man toward a nearby shopping center, where they shot him several times, believing he was wearing an explosive vest and ultimately “neutralizing” the threat.
While authorities have not yet specified the motives of the attacker, witnesses say he was wearing a mock suicide vest and yelled “Allahu Akbar” during the violent rampage, the Daily Mail reports. Police say the attacker appears to have picked his victims at random, a police union source describing him as “lashing out at anyone he could.”
“Four people were attacked by an individual in the Hautes-Bruyères park, near a supermarket. The attacker was armed with a knife and was lashing out at anyone he could,” he said. “The attacker appeared to be wearing an explosives vest but was not wearing any shoes when he carried out the attacks. Victims were falling down around him, while others raised the alarm … Members of the anti-criminal brigade were first on the scene, and shot a number of rounds at the man. He was declared dead at the scene.”
No explosives were found at the scene, officials say.
“In his murderous journey, the suspect tried to attack other victims who managed to avoid it,” Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau told the press shortly after the alarming incident.
L’Haÿ-les-Roses Mayor Vincent Jeanbrun told a local television station that after going on the rampage in the park, the attacker made his way to the shopping center, “where he seemingly intended to continue his attack,” France 24 reports.
“Luckily the police were quickly alerted and made their way rapidly to the scene where they neutralised him by killing him,” said the mayor.
Police union official Yves Lefebvre revealed that officers “fired repeatedly because they feared the man was wearing an explosive belt and might blow himself up,” France 24 reports.
Video reportedly showing the police descending on the attacker is circulating online:
The assailant was neutralized by security forcespic.twitter.com/uOiGAF0tfn
— EHA News (@eha_news) January 3, 2020
The police response to the attack was praised by France’s Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nuñez, who described their confrontation and elimination of the threat as “extremely courageous.”
The victim who died from the attack is a 56-year-old man from Villejuif who was stabbed while trying to protect his wife. According to Villejuif Mayor Franck Le Bohellec, the deceased victim was walking through the park with his wife when the attacker approached. “He wanted to protect his wife,” the mayor told Le Parisen, “and it was he who took this stab.”
Two other victims, who were taken to Kremlin-Bicêtre hospital, are reportedly in “critical condition,” according to the Daily Mail
“French counter-terrorism prosecutors said they were assessing the scene and authorities were trying to identify the attacker,” BBC reports.