PARIS (Reuters) – A man armed with a meat cleaver attacked and wounded two people on Friday who had stepped out for a cigarette in front of the Paris office building where Islamist militants gunned down employees of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo five years ago.
Police soon after detained the man suspected of carrying out the attack, with bloodstains on his clothes, next to the steps of an opera house about 500 metres (yards) away.
The suspected attacker was from Pakistan, and had arrived in France three years ago as an unaccompanied minor, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.
“We are still in a war against Islamist terrorism,” Darmanin said in a Twitter post.
He said he had ordered law enforcement agents to beef up protection at all sites where Islamist attacks had taken place in the past, and at synagogues, where the city’s Jewish community this weekend mark the Yom Kippur holiday.
Nathan Messas, a doctor who lives near the scene of Friday’s attack, said it brought back memories of the Charlie Hebdo shooting. “Once again, hatred, gratuitous hatred. I was here five years ago. Five years later, we’re here again. I don’t know when this is going to end,” Messas said.
The victims of Friday’s attack were taken to hospital but their lives were not in danger, officials said.
The attack coincided with the start this month of the trial of 14 alleged accomplices in the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack. The gunmen behind that attack killed 12 people.
Investigators said the militants at that time wanted to avenge the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in the magazine. Charlie Hebdo republished the cartoons on the eve of the trial this month.
The main suspect in Friday’s attack is 18 years old, a police source said. The interior minister said he was not on a security services watchlist. He was detained a month ago for carrying a weapon – a screwdriver – and was released with a warning, said the minister.