A French soldier was stabbed in the throat in a busy commercial district outside Paris on Saturday, and France’s president said authorities were investigating any possible links with the recent beheading of a British soldier.
President Francois Hollande said the identity of the attacker was unknown and cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the assault on the uniformed soldier in the La Defense shopping area. The life of the 23-year-old soldier was not in danger, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
According to French newspaper Le Parisien, police described the attacker as a North African man aged approximately 30-years-old with a beard, a black jacket and a light colored djellaba cloak.
The stabbing follows the slaying Wednesday of a British soldier, who was brutally stabbed on a London street in broad daylight in a suspected terrorist attack that has raised fears of potential copycat strikes.
“There could be a link, but we will look at all the elements,” Hollande said during a news conference in Ethiopia, where he was traveling.
The British soldier, 25-year-old Lee Rigby, was attacked while walking outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in the Woolwich area of south London.
The gruesome scene was recorded on witnesses’ cellphones, and a video has emerged in which one of the two suspects — his hands bloodied — boasted of their exploits and warned of more violence as the soldier lay on the ground. Holding bloody knives and a meat cleaver, the suspects waited for the arrival of police, who shot them in the legs, according to witnesses.
In the video, one of the suspects declared, “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you … We must fight them as they fight us.”
Two Muslim hard-liners have identified that suspect as Michael Adebolajo, a Christian who converted to Islam and attended several London demonstrations organized by banned British radical group al-Muhajiroun.