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One killed in Paris stabbing, assailant shot dead in suspected terror attack

Police fired repeatedly at attacker as they feared he was wearing a suicide vest; at least two other people wounded, one of them seriously; suspect recently converted to Islam

Police stand near a park in the south of Paris' suburban city of Villejuif on January 3, 2020 where police shot dead a knife-wielding man who killed one person and injured at least two others. (CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)
Police stand near a park in the south of Paris' suburban city of Villejuif on January 3, 2020 where police shot dead a knife-wielding man who killed one person and injured at least two others. (CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

PARIS — A knife-wielding man ran amok Friday in a park south of Paris, killing a man walking with his wife and wounding two other people before being shot dead by police, officials said.

The Paris police department said the man, identified as 22-year-old Nathan C., attacked “several people” around lunchtime in the suburb of Villejuif.

Some managed to evade him but the man claimed at least one life — that of a 56-year-old Villejuif resident, according to the town’s mayor Franck Le Bohellec.

The victim “was walking with his wife when the attacker approached; he wanted to protect his wife” and was stabbed, the mayor explained.

According to a source close to the enquiry, another man was seriously wounded and a woman sustained light injuries.

Police officers stand guard on January 3, 2020, in L’Hay-les-Roses where police shot dead a knife-wielding man who killed one person and injured at least two others in a nearby park in the Paris suburb of Villejuif. (Christophe Archambault/AFP)

The assailant then fled to the neighboring suburb of Hay-les-Roses, where he was shot dead by police.

Police union official Yves Lefebvre said officers fired repeatedly because they feared the man was wearing an explosive belt and might blow himself up.

A picture sent to AFP showed a man in a long black garment lying on his back at an intersection.

“We heard screams, then we heard three shots,” said Rouane Yazid, 40, the owner of a garage nearby.

“I went outside to see. Then there were five or six more shots and then sirens. We barricaded ourselves in the garage,” he told AFP.

High alert

Several sources said Nathan C. suffered from “psychological problems.”

He was not being tracked as a religious zealot, although “elements linked to religion” that “suggested he had converted to Islam,” were found among his personal effects, the local prosecutor’s office said.

The police have opened an investigation of murder and attempted murder.

The attack came just four days before France marks the fifth anniversary of the killing of 12 people at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris by two brothers vowing allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for the victims and said in a statement: “We continue to fight determinedly against senseless violence.”

France remains on high alert after being hit by a string of attacks by jihadist extremists since 2015, with more than 250 people killed in total.

A policeman stands guard, on January 21, 2015, in front the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket where jihadist gunman Amedy Coulibaly killed four Jewish men on January 9, 2015 in Paris. (AFP/Eric Feferberg)

The day after the Charlie Hebdo attack, a man linked to the Islamic State terror group shot and killed a policewoman in a southern Paris suburb before taking hostages at a Jewish supermarket the following day, killing four more people.

Police eventually killed all three attackers but it was the beginning of the wave of strikes on French territory.

The deadliest came in November 2013, when 130 people died in bombings and shootings at Paris’s Bataclan concert hall, several bars and restaurants, and the Stade de France sports stadium.

Interior ministry figures indicate that 60 attacks have been thwarted since 2013, the latest in September.

France’s anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard was at the scene of Friday’s attack, but the investigation remained initially under the authority of the Creteil prosecutor’s office.

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