The Latest: Louvre attacker near death; said to be Egyptian
PARIS (AP) — The Latest on an attack outside the Louvre Museum in Paris (all times local):
A French prosecutor says the man who attacked soldiers in front of the Louvre Museum is believed to be a 29-year-old Egyptian who was living in the United Arab Emirates, but his identity has not been formally confirmed yet.
Prosecutor Francois Molins says at a news conference Friday night that the French soldiers’ quick reactions put an end to “a terror attack” Friday morning at one of Paris’ most iconic tourist attractions. He says “everything shows that the assailant was very determined.”
He says the attacker, who was shot by the soldiers, is in a life-threatening condition in a hospital.
Molins said the attacker had no identity papers but investigators used his cellphone to find out that he was a resident in the United Arab Emirates who came to Paris on a tourist visa on Jan. 26. Two days later he bought two military machetes at a gun store in Paris.
Two French officials close to the investigation into the attack at the Louvre Museum in Paris say several police raids are underway in the French capital.
A police official, speaking anonymously because he is not allowed to disclose details about the case, wouldn’t give details on the precise location of the police raids Friday afternoon.
A police union official, Luc Poignant, said one of the raids took place on Rue de Ponthieu, a street near the Champs-Elysees Avenue, the city’s famed boulevard.
A man attacked French soldiers on Friday morning near the Louvre, and they shot him while other security forces locked down the famous museum. He has been hospitalized and the French president says he will be questioned “when it is possible to do so.”
— By Sylvie Corbet
French police union officials say the Louvre attacker is believed to be an Egyptian national.
Police union officials Yves Lefebvre and Luc Poignant say investigators have elements indicating that the attacker is an Egyptian. They were not able to provide more details on the identity of the man and the type of evidence that investigators have on him.
The man was shot by French soldiers after he attacked them Friday near the Louvre Museum in Paris and has been hospitalized.
The founder of the Museum Security Network says the Louvre Museum coped well with the attack by a man with knives.
Ton Cremers, former security chief at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, said the Louvre took quick action to protect visitors in a secure area while the police and military scoured the area outside the world famous museum for possible explosives.
Cremers says: “They did what they should do and what they had to do.”
He says all major museums have detailed contingency plans in place for dealing with emergencies that may develop when there are thousands of visitors inside.
The trend intensified about two decades ago when the Getty Museum in Los Angeles published a book about emergency planning. He says the museum, located in a city where earthquakes often pose a hazard, can house and feed 1500 people for several days if needed.
French Interior minister Bruno Le Roux has praised the quick and effective response of France’s military and police forces to protect about 1,200 persons who were in the museum and its underground shopping mall.
Le Roux, speaking to reporters in the Louvre Museum, said an exercise simulating an attack had been organized on Dec. 6 in the same area where the attack happened.
Le Roux says: “It enabled us to protect, clear, ensure security and then be able to give the museum back to those who are working there.”
Defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the soldier who has been slightly injured in the attack is “doing well” and will rejoin his regiment in the evening.
French President Francois Hollande says there’s “no doubt” that the attack on the Louvre Museum was of a “terrorist nature.”
Speaking Friday to reporters at an EU summit in Malta, he said the situation around the Paris landmark museum is “totally under control” but the overall threat to France remains.
He said he expects the assailant to be questioned “when it is possible to do so.” The attacker, who tried to attack soldiers guarding the Louvre with a machete, was shot five times and is hospitalized.
Hollande insisted the incident showed the need for the increased security patrols that have been deployed around France since attacks in 2015 and 2016.
France’s culture minister says the Louvre Museum in Paris will stay closed for the rest of the day for security reasons but will reopen Saturday after a knife-wielding man was shot trying to attack soldiers guarding the site.
Minister Audrey Azoulay made the announcement Friday at the Louvre, where she and the defense minister and interior minister visited soldiers guarding the famed museum as part of heightened security measures after attacks on France in recent years.
Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux says French police and soldiers succeeded in ensuring that all 1,200 people at the museum at the time were safe and secure.
When a man tried to attack soldiers at the Louvre Museum, the historical landmark went into effective lockdown, with no one allowed to leave and hundreds of tourists whisked to safety in special rooms.
A Louvre spokeswoman said the visitors were taken to rooms in the vast museum — a medieval former royal palace — that have no windows and are considered “more secure” than the main halls.
For security reasons, she wouldn’t say whether they are storerooms, or whether the rooms have any paintings in them. The spokeswoman was not authorized to be publicly named according to Louvre policy.
About 1,000 people were in the museum at the time of the incident Friday, in which a knife-wielding man was shot after trying to attack soldiers guarding the Louvre. After a couple of hours, the tourists were evacuated from the museum, without incident. The museum remained closed Friday afternoon.
Louvre visitor Conor Bakhuizen, 18, in Paris on a school trip, said he “was in the foyer and suddenly rushed into another room in the museum.” He said the mood was “very tense at first but everyone was vigilant.”
—By Angela Charlton
A French Socialist lawmaker who wrote a report on the fight against terror is warning that France faces a “double menace,” coming from both outside the country and from within.
Speaking after a knife-wielding man attacked a patrol of French soldiers near the Louvre Museum, Sebastien Pietrasanta told The Associated Press that “the worse has yet to come.”
Pietrasanta said that France is likely to be targeted again, either by well-organized cells sent by the Islamic State group or by lone wolves radicalized in France and capable of launching attacks from one day to the next.
The said in a phone interview that “we are facing a persistent threat and instability will last for at least one generation.”
Pietrasanta added that military personnel and police officers are particularly targeted by extremists because they represent the French state.
He said that “this is not something new, it already happened. Fortunately their protection gear has greatly improved.”
Staff members are returning to a shopping mall beneath the Louvre Museum and roadblocks have been cleared after a man was shot after trying to attack a soldier guarding the site.
Police said the area around the attempted attack was evacuated following the incident. A French soldier shot the attacker — who shouted “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great” — and seriously wounded him.
As the roadblocks were cleared, tourists began streaming out of the Louvre.
Hundreds of tourists had remained inside the museum during the incident, and some were brought into special safe rooms, according to a witness.
Conor Bakhuizen, 18, is in Paris on a school trip. In a Twitter exchange with The Associated Press, he said he “was in the foyer and suddenly rushed into another room in the museum.”
He said the mood was “very tense at first but everyone was vigilant and now” everyone is in a good mood.
The attack on a soldier outside the Louvre Museum took place only hours before leaders of Paris’ bid for the 2024 Olympics unveil their final candidate files.
French officials have repeatedly dismissed security concerns over the bid despite the wave of attacks that have left more than 200 people dead in the country over the past two years.
The attack will raise more questions before Friday’s ceremony near the Eiffel Tower, although bid officials claim the French capital has the experience needed to organize and protect major events if it gets the 2024 Games.
Speaking outside the Louvre, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who will attend the ceremony alongside athletes and other bid leaders, said all big cities in the world are under threat. She said that “there is not a single one escaping that menace.”
Paris, which hasn’t hosted the Olympics since 1924, is competing against Budapest and Los Angeles. The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city in September.
---A previous version of this item has been corrected to show that the mayor’s surname is Hidalgo, not Hidlago.
A spokesman for the military force that patrols key sites in Paris says a four-man patrol of soldiers attacked at the Louvre tried to fight off an assailant before they opened fire.
Spokesman Benoit Brulon says a soldier who was slightly injured by the attacker was not the solider who opened fire. Police say the man attacked soldiers after he was refused entry to a shopping complex under the museum with his bags. Officials found two machetes.
Some 3,500 soldiers patrol key sites as part of beefed-up security measures in Paris.
Exterminator Olivier Majewski says he was just leaving his scooter in the parking lot beneath the Louvre when he saw a crush of people running and screaming “there’s been a terror attack.” The 53-year-old says he hid for about 15 minutes before gingerly making his way upstairs.
The French interior ministry says anti-terrorism prosecutors are investigating an attack outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, but there are no details about the identity of the attacker.
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet says a second person also was arrested but it is unclear whether that person was linked to the attack.
Police say a man attacked soldiers Friday morning when they told him he couldn’t enter a shopping complex under the museum with his bags. The attacker was shot five times. One soldier had a minor scalp injury.
Brandet says about 1,000 people were inside the actual museum and were held inside in safe areas.
Police in Paris say a man attacked soldiers when they told him he couldn’t enter an underground shopping mall beneath the sprawling Louvre Museum with his bags.
Yves Lefebvre, a police union official, says the man tried to stab one of the soldiers. The attacker was shot five times.
Lefebvre says police found two machetes on the man.
Police have sealed off entrances around where the attack took place and closed the area to vehicles, snarling traffic in a busy part of central Paris.
The situation is mainly calm, with confused tourists being gently shooed away by officers.
The Paris police chief says a man armed with a machete and shouting “God is great” in Arabic launched himself at soldiers and police officers near the Louvre Museum. One of the soldiers shot the attacker five times, gravely wounding him.
Police chief Michel Cadot says the attacker was also carrying two backpacks but they were later found not to contain any explosives.
One soldier had a minor scalp injury.
Paris police say a soldier has opened fire outside the Louvre Museum after he was attacked by someone, and the area is being evacuated.
The Paris police press office said it has no other details other than that a soldier opened fire.
A police union official, Luc Poignant, told BFM-TV that an attacker assaulted the soldier and that the area is now being secured.
The museum in the center of Paris is one of the French capital’s biggest tourist attractions.
Soldiers on patrol are part of security measures that have beefed-up in the wake of terror attacks in France in 2015 and 2016.