France Opens Terror Probe After Teacher Beheaded in Paris Suburb

France Police Officer
(Photo: AFP)

A man armed with a knife on Friday beheaded a middle school teacher in front of his school in a suburb of Paris, police said, in an attack that was being treated as terrorism.

The suspected attacker was shot dead by a police patrol a few streets away.

France‘s anti-terror prosecutor said it was investigating the fatal attack, which took place in Conflans Sainte-Honorine, a suburb north-west of Paris.

President Emmanuel Macron headed to the scene following an emergency meeting at the French interior ministry.

The teacher had recently discussed caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class, according to a police source.

Police also said that witnesses had heard the attacker shout “allahu akbar”, or “allah is great”.

The grisly murder was an attack on the French nation as a whole, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said on Twitter. “Our unity and our resolve are the only responses faced with the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism,” the minister wrote.

Last month, a 25-year old Pakistani man attacked two people with a meat cleaver over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed by the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The attacker seriously injured two employees of a TV production agency, whose offices are on the same block that used to house Charlie Hebdo. Both survived.

That attack came three weeks into an ongoing trial of suspected accomplices of the authors of the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, which also saw a policewoman gunned down in the street.

Seventeen people were killed in the three-day spree that heralded a wave of Islamist violence in France that has so far claimed more than 250 lives.

Al Qaeda, the militant Islamist group that claimed responsibility for the 2015 attack, threatened to attack Charlie Hebdo again after it republished the cartoons at the start of the trial.

The magazine said last month it published the cartoons to assert its right to freedom of expression, and to show it would not be cowed into silence by violent attacks. That stance was backed by many prominent French politicians and public figures.