Anti-terrorism prosecutors in France are investigating the death of a teacher who was decapitated on a street in northern Paris on Friday afternoon, according to local media reports and authorities.
The attack near a school in the Parisian suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine occurred after the teacher apparently showed caricatures of the prophet Muhammad to his students, a police spokesperson told NBC.
Citing a police source, Agence France-Presse reported that the attacker shouted “Allahu Akbar” after the decapitation. According to a police union official, onlookers saw the suspect slicing the victim’s throat.
The suspect, who has not been identified, reportedly threatened officers with a knife when he was confronted soon after in the nearby suburb of Eragy Sur Oise. He was fatally shot by police.
“Shots were fired and the suspect was killed,” a police spokesperson told NBC News, stating that a handgun was also found near the suspect.
A bomb squad was brought in because the suspect appeared to be wearing a vest. The police spokesperson said the suspect had claimed responsibility for the attack and posted a photo of the victim on Twitter that was later removed.
The Friday attack is one of several terrorism-related tragedies to hit the French capital over the years. Last month, two people were injured in a knife attack close to the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, where Islamist militants killed 12 people in 2015 in revenge for a controversial cartoon of the prophet Muhammad. Officials said the September attack was an act of Islamist terrorism carried out amid a trial for the 2015 attackers.
On Friday, the police spokesperson told NBC that the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine teacher had been threatened by a parent after showing caricatures from Charlie Hebdo as part of a discussion on freedom of expression and blasphemy.
“Tonight, it was the Republic that was attacked with the despicable assassination of one of its servants, a professor,” Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said Friday. “I think tonight of him, of his family. Our unity and steadfastness are the only answers to the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism.”
The Washington Post reported the country’s anti-terror prosecutor immediately opened an investigation into the “murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “criminal terrorist association.”
French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday evening went to the crime scene after an emergency meeting with Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin. Darmanin set up a crisis center to deal with the grisly attack.