Paris stabbings were act of Islamist terrorism, says minister

France Knife Attack

A double stabbing outside the former Paris offices of a satirical newspaper where dozens were killed in 2015 is an "act of Islamist terrorism", France's interior minister has said.

Two suspects were arrested separately shortly after the stabbing in which two people were wounded.

The main suspect had been arrested a month ago on the steps of the Bastille Opera, not far from the attack site, for carrying a screwdriver but was not on the police radar for Islamic radicalisation.

The interior minister said the young man arrived in France three years ago as an unaccompanied minor, apparently from Pakistan, but his identity was still being verified.

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Police respond to Paris knife attack
French police officers and rescue workers gather a knife attack near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Friday Sept. 25, 2020 in Paris. A police official said officers are "actively hunting" for the perpetrators and have cordoned off the area including the former Charlie Hebdo offices after a suspect package was noticed nearby. Islamic extremists attacked the offices in 2015, killing 12 people. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
French police officers patrol after four people have been wounded in a knife attack near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Friday Sept. 25, 2020 in Paris. A police official said officers are "actively hunting" for the perpetrators and have cordoned off the area including the former Charlie Hebdo offices after a suspect package was noticed nearby. Islamic extremists attacked the offices in 2015, killing 12 people. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Riot police officers arrive after four people have been wounded in a knife attack near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Friday Sept. 25, 2020 in Paris. A police official said officers are "actively hunting" for the perpetrators and have cordoned off the area including the former Charlie Hebdo offices after a suspect package was noticed nearby. Islamic extremists attacked the offices in 2015, killing 12 people. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Police car park outside a building after four people have been wounded in a knife attack near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Friday Sept. 25, 2020 in Paris. A police official said officers are "actively hunting" for the perpetrators and have cordoned off the area including the former Charlie Hebdo offices after a suspect package was noticed nearby. Islamic extremists attacked the offices in 2015, killing 12 people. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
A French soldiers gestures after four people have been wounded in a knife attack near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Friday Sept. 25, 2020 in Paris. A police official said officers are "actively hunting" for the perpetrators and have cordoned off the area including the former Charlie Hebdo offices after a suspect package was noticed nearby. Islamic extremists attacked the offices in 2015, killing 12 people. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
French soldiers patrol after four people have been wounded in a knife attack near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Friday Sept. 25, 2020 in Paris. A police official said officers are "actively hunting" for the perpetrators and have cordoned off the area including the former Charlie Hebdo offices after a suspect package was noticed nearby. Islamic extremists attacked the offices in 2015, killing 12 people. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
An armed French soldier (backC) stands guards past policemen as he secures the area after several people were injured near the former offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo following an attack by a man wielding a knife in the capital Paris on September 25, 2020. - Four people were injured, two seriously, in a knife attack in Paris on September 25, 2020, near the former offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a source close to the investigation told AFP. Two of the victims were in a critical condition, the Paris police department said, adding two suspects were on the run. The stabbing came as a trial was underway in the capital for alleged accomplices of the authors of the January 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo weekly that claimed 12 lives. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)
An armed French soldier (background) stands guard as policemen secure the area after several people were injured near the former offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo following an attack by a man wielding a knife in the capital Paris on September 25, 2020. - Four people were injured, two seriously, in a knife attack in Paris on September 25, 2020, near the former offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a source close to the investigation told AFP. Two of the victims were in a critical condition, the Paris police department said, adding two suspects were on the run. The stabbing came as a trial was underway in the capital for alleged accomplices of the authors of the January 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo weekly that claimed 12 lives. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)
An armed French soldier stands guard near the area after several people were injured near the former offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo following an attack by a man wielding a knife in the capital Paris on September 25, 2020. - Four people were injured, two seriously, in a knife attack in Paris on September 25, 2020, near the former offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a source close to the investigation told AFP. Two of the victims were in a critical condition, the Paris police department said, adding two suspects were on the run. The stabbing came as a trial was underway in the capital for alleged accomplices of the authors of the January 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo weekly that claimed 12 lives. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman is comforted after several people were injured near the former offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo following an attack by a man wielding a knife in the capital Paris on September 25, 2020. - Four people were injured, two seriously, in a knife attack in Paris on September 25, 2020, near the former offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a source close to the investigation told AFP. Two of the victims were in a critical condition, the Paris police department said, adding two suspects were on the run. The stabbing came as a trial was underway in the capital for alleged accomplices of the authors of the January 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo weekly that claimed 12 lives. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP) (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)
A French police officer secures the area after several people were injured near the former offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo following an attack by a man wielding a knife in the capital Paris on September 25, 2020. - Four people were injured, two seriously, in a knife attack in Paris on September 25, 2020, near the former offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a source close to the investigation told AFP. Two of the victims were in a critical condition, the Paris police department said, adding two suspects were on the run. The stabbing came as a trial was underway in the capital for alleged accomplices of the authors of the January 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo weekly that claimed 12 lives. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)
A French police intervention unit (GSO) officer secures the area after several people were injured near the former offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo following an attack by a man wielding a knife in the capital Paris on September 25, 2020. - Four people were injured, two seriously, in a knife attack in Paris on September 25, 2020, near the former offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, a source close to the investigation told AFP. Two of the victims were in a critical condition, the Paris police department said, adding two suspects were on the run. The stabbing came as a trial was underway in the capital for alleged accomplices of the authors of the January 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo weekly that claimed 12 lives. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP) (Photo by ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images)
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"But manifestly it's an act of Islamist terrorism," Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said in an interview with the France 2 television station. "Obviously, there is little doubt. It's a new bloody attack against our country, against journalists, against this society."

France's counter-terrorism prosecutor said earlier that authorities suspect a terrorist motive because of the place and timing of the stabbings: in front of the building where Charlie Hebdo was based until the Islamic extremist attack on its cartoonists and at a time when suspects in the 2015 attack are on trial.

Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said that the chief suspect in Friday's stabbings was arrested, along with another person.

Mr Ricard said the assailant did not know the people who were stabbed, a woman and a man working at a documentary production company who had stepped outside for a smoking break.

The suspects' identities have not been released. An investigation was opened into "attempted murder in relation with a terrorist enterprise", according to an official at the terrorism prosecutor's office.

France Knife Attack
A soldier on patrol in Paris after the attack (Thibault Camus/AP)

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the lives of the two wounded workers were not in danger. He offered the government's solidarity with their families and colleagues.

The prime minister noted the "symbolic site" of the attack, "at the very moment where the trial into the atrocious acts against Charlie Hebdo is under way."

He promised the government's "unfailing attachment to freedom of the press, and its determination to fight terrorism".

In a tweet, Charlie Hebdo strongly condemned the stabbings.

"This tragic episode shows us once again that fanaticism, intolerance, the origins of which will be revealed by the investigation, are still present in French society....There is no question of ceding anything," the newspaper said.

France Knife Attack
Police on the streets of Paris (Thibault Camus)

The two people confirmed injured worked for documentary film company Premieres Lignes, according to founder Paul Moreira. He told France's BFM television that the attacker fled into the subway, and the company's staff members were evacuated.

Mr Moreira said a man in the street "attacked two people who were in front of the building, didn't enter the building, and who attacked them with an axe and who left". He said the company had not received any threats.

A tweet from Charlie Hebdo posted not long after the attack said: "All the team at Charlie offers support and solidarity to its former neighbours and colleagues at PLTVfilms and to the people hit by this odious attack."

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