RAMBOUILLET, France — Masked and in silence, more than 1,000 police officers, family members, and others pay homage to a French police official killed inside her police station in what authorities are investigating as a terrorist attack.
Neighbors, colleagues, and friends of the victim join local officials at the tribute ceremony in front of the town hall of Rambouillet, a quiet Paris suburb rocked by Friday’s stabbing by a suspected Islamic extremist.
“A flame has been extinguished in everyone’s heart,” Mayor Veronique Matillon tells the crowd, honoring a woman who “was killed while serving out her functions.” The victim is identified publicly only as Stephanie M.
From Marseille on the Mediterranean to Strasbourg on the German border, police unions hold small, wordless gatherings in front of police stations across France at the same time as the one in Rambouillet.
At the Rambouillet tribute, local teacher Adrienne Nkemba describes her distress and that of her students after the stabbing.
“This really hit us,” she tells The Associated Press. “My children at school… they talked only about this all day.”
Meanwhile, a group of imams organizes another small tribute in Rambouillet to honor the slain official and show their support for police and national unity.
The attacker “betrayed us,” says Imam Hassen Chalgoumi. At his side, Rabbi Levi Matusof urges France to denounce terrorism and “to say together, never again.” Along with about a dozen supporters holding single white roses, they then sing the French national anthem.
French police killed the 37-year-old Tunisian attacker shortly after he stabbed the unarmed administrative employee on Friday at the entrance of her police station.