Two wounded in knife attack near ex-Charlie Hebdo site
A man wielding a knife seriously wounded two people in Paris on Sept. 25 in a suspected terror attack outside the former offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, three weeks into the trial of suspected accomplices in the 2015 massacre of the newspaper’s staff.
Charlie Hebdo had angered many Muslims around the world by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, and in a defiant gesture ahead of the trial this month, it reprinted the caricatures on its front cover.
Twelve people, including some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists, were killed in the January 7, 2015, attack by radical gunmen.
Paris police said two people were "critically wounded" in Friday’s attack near the paper’s former offices in the 11th district. The magazine’s current address is kept secret for security reasons.
The Premieres Lignes news production agency, which has its offices in the block, said the two wounded were its employees. One witness said they had been attacked with a machete.
The attack is being investigated by specialist anti-terror prosecutors who have opened a probe into charges of "attempted murder related to terrorism" and "conspiracy with terrorists."
Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said "the main perpetrator has been arrested" after being caught near the Place de la Bastille square, not far from the scene.
A second person was also detained later in the Bastille area and held for questioning, though Heitz did not give any details on what role the individual may have played.
The founder and co-head of Premieres Lignes, Paul Moreira, told AFP that a man attacked two employees - a man and a woman - who were taking a cigarette break outside the building.
"They were both very badly wounded," he said.
The production company specializes in investigative reports and produces the prize-winning Cash Investigation programme.
"Two colleagues were smoking cigarettes in the street. I heard screams. I went to the window and saw a colleague, bloodied, being chased by a man with a machete," added another employee, who asked not to be named.
Five schools in the area immediately went into lockdown, and half a dozen nearby metro stations were closed. The school lockdown was lifted shortly before 3:00 pm.
"Around noon we went for a lunch break at the restaurant. As we arrived, the manager started shouting ’Go, go there is an attack ...’ We ran to lock ourselves and stay inside our shop with four customers," Hassani Erwan, a barber aged 23, told AFP.
Prime Minister Jean Castex, visiting the scene with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, said the lives of the two victims "are not in danger, thank God."
He reiterated the government’s "firm commitment to combat terrorism by all possible means."
In a Twitter post, Charlie Hebdo expressed its "support and solidarity with its former neighbors... and the people affected by this odious attack."