Suspect shot dead by police after teacher decapitated near Paris

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A history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Mohammed has been decapitated in a street near Paris, a police official said.

Officers shot the suspected killer dead, the official continued.

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation into Friday's incident outside the capital.

The gruesome killing of the teacher in a middle school occurred in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine while the suspect was killed by police in adjoining Eragny. The towns are located in the Val d'Oise region north west of Paris.

President Emmanuel Macron is visiting the school.

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Teacher decapitated in Paris
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Teacher decapitated in Paris
People gather on Place de la Republique in Paris on October 18, 2020, in homage to history teacher Samuel Paty two days after he was beheaded by an attacker who was shot dead by policemen. Thousands of people rally in Paris and other French cities on October 18 in a show of solidarity and defiance after a teacher was beheaded for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. His murder in a Paris suburb on October 16 shocked the country and brought back memories of a wave of Islamist violence in 2015. (Photo by Michel Stoupak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Several thousand people gathered in memory of Samuel Paty, for having debated in class the freedom of expression and the caricatures of Mohammed from ''Charlie Hebdo''., in Paris, France, on October 18, 2020. The history teacher was assassinated and beheaded by a terrorist in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Photo by Stephane Rouppert/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Several thousand people gathered in memory of Samuel Paty, for having debated in class the freedom of expression and the caricatures of Mohammed from ''Charlie Hebdo''., in Paris, France, on October 18, 2020. The history teacher was assassinated and beheaded by a terrorist in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Photo by Stephane Rouppert/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 18 : People attend a rally in memory of Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was beheaded on the streets of the Paris suburb of Conflans St Honorine on October 18, 2020 in Paris, France . France launched an anti-terrorism investigation after the October 16 incident in which police shot the 18 year-old assailant who decapitated the history-geography teacher for having shown a caricature of prophet Mohamed during an example of freedom of speech at the College Bois d'Aulne middle-school. (Photo by Antoine Gyori/Corbis via Getty Images)
Several thousand people gathered in memory of Samuel Paty, for having debated in class the freedom of expression and the caricatures of Mohammed from ''Charlie Hebdo''., in Paris, France, on October 18, 2020. The history teacher was assassinated and beheaded by a terrorist in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Photo by Stephane Rouppert/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Several thousand people gathered on the Place de la Republique in Paris, France, on October 18, 2020 for a popular tribute to Samuel Paty, a history teacher who was assassinated and beheaded in a terrorist attack near the college where he worked at Conflans Saint-Honorine, a Parisian suburb. During this tribute, many people held signs with slogans such as ''I am Samuel'', ''I am a teacher'' or various slogans on freedom of expression. (Photo by Samuel Boivin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Several thousand people gathered on the Place de la Republique in Paris, France, on October 18, 2020 for a popular tribute to Samuel Paty, a history teacher who was assassinated and beheaded in a terrorist attack near the college where he worked at Conflans Saint-Honorine, a Parisian suburb. During this tribute, many people held signs with slogans such as ''I am Samuel'', ''I am a teacher'' or various slogans on freedom of expression. (Photo by Samuel Boivin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A man holds a sign reading "I am a teacher" among people demonstrating in Rennes, western France on October 17, 2020, one day after a teacher was beheaded by an attacker who was shot dead by policemen in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris. - The man suspected of beheading on October 16, 2020, a French teacher who had shown his students cartoons of the prophet Mohammed was an 18-year-old born in Moscow and originating from Russia's southern region of Chechnya, a judicial source said on October 17. Five more people have been detained over the murder on October 16 ,2020 outside Paris, including the parents of a child at the school where the teacher was working, bringing to nine the total number currently under arrest, said the source, who asked not to be named. The attack happened at around 5 pm (1500 GMT) near a school in Conflans Saint-Honorine, a western suburb of the French capital. The man who was decapitated was a history teacher who had recently shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class. (Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP) (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images)
A child lights a candle at the entrance of a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris, on October 17, 2020, after a teacher was decapitated by an attacker who has been shot dead by policemen. - The man suspected of beheading on October 16 ,2020 a French teacher who had shown his students cartoons of the prophet Mohammed was an 18-year-old born in Moscow and originating from Russia's southern region of Chechnya, a judicial source said on October 17. Five more people have been detained over the murder on October 16 ,2020 outside Paris, including the parents of a child at the school where the teacher was working, bringing to nine the total number currently under arrest, said the source, who asked not to be named. The attack happened at around 5 pm (1500 GMT) near a school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a western suburb of the French capital. The man who was decapitated was a history teacher who had recently shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)
French police officers stand guard a street in Eragny on October 16, 2020, where an attacker was shot dead by policemen after he decapitated a man earlier on the same day in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. - French anti-terror prosecutors said Friday they were investigating an assault in which a man was decapitated on the outskirts of Paris and the attacker shot by police. The attack happened at around 5 pm (1500 GMT) near a school in Conflans Saint-Honorine, a western suburb of the French capital. The man who was decapitated was a history teacher who had recently shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class. French prosecutors are treating the attack as a terror incident, which coincides with the trial of alleged accomplices of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attackers and comes weeks after a man injured two people he thought worked for the magazine. (Photo by ABDULMONAM EASSA / AFP) (Photo by ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP via Getty Images)
A French police officer stands guard a street in Eragny on October 16, 2020, where an attacker was shot dead by policemen after he decapitated a man earlier on the same day in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. - French anti-terror prosecutors said Friday they were investigating an assault in which a man was decapitated on the outskirts of Paris and the attacker shot by police. The attack happened at around 5 pm (1500 GMT) near a school in Conflans Saint-Honorine, a western suburb of the French capital. The man who was decapitated was a history teacher who had recently shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class. French prosecutors are treating the attack as a terror incident, which coincides with the trial of alleged accomplices of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attackers and comes weeks after a man injured two people he thought worked for the magazine. (Photo by Abdulmonam EASSA / AFP) (Photo by ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP via Getty Images)
French police officers stand guard a street in Eragny on October 16, 2020, where an attacker was shot dead by policemen after he decapitated a man earlier on the same day in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. - French anti-terror prosecutors said Friday they were investigating an assault in which a man was decapitated on the outskirts of Paris and the attacker shot by police. The attack happened at around 5 pm (1500 GMT) near a school in Conflans Saint-Honorine, a western suburb of the French capital. The man who was decapitated was a history teacher who had recently shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class. French prosecutors are treating the attack as a terror incident, which coincides with the trial of alleged accomplices of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attackers and comes weeks after a man injured two people he thought worked for the magazine. (Photo by ABDULMONAM EASSA / AFP) (Photo by ABDULMONAM EASSA/AFP via Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, is seen outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French police officers stand outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. The teacher had received threats after opening a discussion "for a debate" about the caricatures about 10 days ago, the police official told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French police officers gather outside a high school after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A police car enters the perimeter after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was decapitated, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris. Police have shot the suspected killer dead. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Police officers block the access after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was decapitated in a French street on Friday and police have shot the suspected killer dead, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A poster reading "I am Samuel" and flowers lay outside the school where slain history teacher Samuel Paty was working, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an "Islamist terrorist attack" against a history teacher decapitated in a Paris suburb Friday, urging the nation to stand united against extremism. The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said. The suspected attacker was shot to death by police after Friday's beheading. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Girls light candles outside the school where a slain history teacher was working, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an "Islamist terrorist attack" against a history teacher decapitated in a Paris suburb Friday, urging the nation to stand united against extremism. The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said. The suspected attacker was shot to death by police after Friday's beheading. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A girl holds a flower to lay at the entrance of the school where a slain history teacher was working, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an "Islamist terrorist attack" against a history teacher decapitated in a Paris suburb Friday, urging the nation to stand united against extremism. The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said. The suspected attacker was shot to death by police after Friday's beheading. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
French President Emmanuel Macron, flanked by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, second left, speaks in front of a high school Friday Oct.16, 2020 in Conflans Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris, after a history teacher who opened a discussion with high school students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was beheaded. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an "Islamist terrorist attack" against a history teacher decapitated in a Paris suburb Friday, urging the nation to stand united against extremism. (Abdulmonam Eassa, Pool via AP)
School children pay homage to the slain history teacher outside a school Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, northwest of Paris. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an "Islamist terrorist attack" against a history teacher decapitated in a Paris suburb Friday, urging the nation to stand united against extremism. The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said. The suspected attacker was shot to death by police after Friday's beheading. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
A photo shows flowers and a placard reading 'I am a teacher, I am Samuel' at the entrance of a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris, on October 17, 2020, after a teacher was decapitated by an attacker who has been shot dead by policemen. - The man suspected of beheading on October 16 ,2020 a French teacher who had shown his students cartoons of the prophet Mohammed was an 18-year-old born in Moscow and originating from Russia's southern region of Chechnya, a judicial source said on October 17. Five more people have been detained over the murder on October 16 ,2020 outside Paris, including the parents of a child at the school where the teacher was working, bringing to nine the total number currently under arrest, said the source, who asked not to be named. The attack happened at around 5 pm (1500 GMT) near a school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a western suburb of the French capital. The man who was decapitated was a history teacher who had recently shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)
A woman lays flowers at the entrance of a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris, on October 17, 2020, after a teacher was decapitated by an attacker who has been shot dead by policemen. - The man suspected of beheading on October 16 ,2020 a French teacher who had shown his students cartoons of the prophet Mohammed was an 18-year-old born in Moscow and originating from Russia's southern region of Chechnya, a judicial source said on October 17. Five more people have been detained over the murder on October 16 ,2020 outside Paris, including the parents of a child at the school where the teacher was working, bringing to nine the total number currently under arrest, said the source, who asked not to be named. The attack happened at around 5 pm (1500 GMT) near a school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a western suburb of the French capital. The man who was decapitated was a history teacher who had recently shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)
Adults and children walk towards flowers displayed in front of a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris, on October 17, 2020, after a teacher was decapitated by an attacker who has been shot dead by policemen. - The man suspected of beheading on October 16 ,2020 a French teacher who had shown his students cartoons of the prophet Mohammed was an 18-year-old born in Moscow and originating from Russia's southern region of Chechnya, a judicial source said on October 17. Five more people have been detained over the murder on October 16 ,2020 outside Paris, including the parents of a child at the school where the teacher was working, bringing to nine the total number currently under arrest, said the source, who asked not to be named. The attack happened at around 5 pm (1500 GMT) near a school in Conflans Saint-Honorine, a western suburb of the French capital. The man who was decapitated was a history teacher who had recently shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)
People hold placards reading 'I am a teacher' near the entrance of a middle school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris, on October 17, 2020, after a teacher was decapitated by an attacker who has been shot dead by policemen. - The man suspected of beheading on October 16 ,2020 a French teacher who had shown his students cartoons of the prophet Mohammed was an 18-year-old born in Moscow and originating from Russia's southern region of Chechnya, a judicial source said on October 17. Five more people have been detained over the murder on October 16 ,2020 outside Paris, including the parents of a child at the school where the teacher was working, bringing to nine the total number currently under arrest, said the source, who asked not to be named. The attack happened at around 5 pm (1500 GMT) near a school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a western suburb of the French capital. The man who was decapitated was a history teacher who had recently shown caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP) (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)
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Heavily armed police sealed off the area around the school, and police vans and emergency vehicles lined leafy adjacent streets.

The suspect's identity was not made public. French media reported that the suspect was an 18-year-old Chechen, born in Moscow. That information could not be immediately confirmed.

France has offered asylum to many Chechens since the Russian military waged war against Islamist separatists in Chechnya in the 1990s and early 2000s, and there are Chechen communities scattered around France.

France has seen occasional violence involving its Chechen community in recent months, in the Dijon region, the Mediterranean city of Nice, and the western town of Saint-Dizier, believed linked to local criminal activity.

The attack came as President Macron is pushing for a new law against what he calls domestic "separatism," notably by Islamic radicals accused of indoctrinating vulnerable people through home schools, extremist preaching and other activities.

France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe with up to five million members, and Islam is the country's second religion.

A police official said the suspect, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun — which fires plastic pellets — was shot dead about 600 metres from where the male teacher was killed after he failed to respond to orders to put down his arms, and acted in a threatening manner.

The teacher had received threats after opening a discussion "for a debate" about the caricatures about 10 days ago, the police official told The Associated Press.

The parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said, adding that the suspected killer did not have a child at the school.

The two officials could not be named because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing investigations.

"We didn't see this coming," Conflans resident Remi Tell said on CNews TV station. He had attended the middle school where the teacher taught, Bois D'Aulne, and described the town as peaceful.

It was the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of an ongoing trial on the newsroom massacre in Jan. 2015 at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the publication of caricatures of the prophet of Islam.

As the trial opened, the paper republished caricatures of the prophet to underscore the right of freedom of expression. Exactly three weeks ago, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing, outside the newspaper's former offices, two people who suffered non life-threatening injuries.

The 18-year-old told police he was upset about the publication of the caricatures.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer tweeted that it was France itself that was attacked.

"Our unity and firmness are the only response in the face of the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism," he tweeted.

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