France launches terrorism investigation into attempted knife attack at Eiffel Tower – source
The man was arrested near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Saturday at about 11:30 pm local time, according to media reports. The intruder was reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar” when he approached the security officers, who quickly neutralized him, several French media outlets reported.
A man crossed the first security barrier by pushing a security guard and hitting him on the shoulder. He then pulled out a knife and shouted “Allah Akbar,” according to a source close to the investigation, as quoted by AFP. “Operation Sentinel soldiers then ordered him to put his knife on the ground. He placed it there without resistance and was immediately detained,” the source added.
In police custody, the man claimed that “he wanted to commit an attack on a soldier and was linked to a member of the Islamic State jihadist group who encouraged him to carry out the act,” according to another source close to the investigation, AFP reports.
While the incident resulted in no injuries, the site was evacuated. The next morning the tourist site was opened again.
The suspect has not been identified yet, although Le Parisien reported that he is a French citizen who was born in Mauritania in 1998.
While the incident was initially regarded as a common crime, French prosecutors reclassified it as a counterterrorism case and attempted murder of government officials after the interrogation of the intruder, according to media reports citing judicial sources.
France has been in a state of emergency following attacks in Paris in November 2015 which saw over 130 people killed. The measure gave police and administrative authorities more power.
In June, French lawmakers adopted a controversial counterterrorism bill cementing some measures that were introduced by the state of emergency, including house searches and seizure of weapons.