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25 May, 2013 17:38

French soldier on duty stabbed by man 'of North African origin' in Paris, manhunt ongoing

French soldier on duty stabbed by man 'of North African origin' in Paris, manhunt ongoing

A French soldier patrolling a business area of western Paris was stabbed in the neck on Saturday by a man who quickly fled the scene and was still being sought, a police source said.

The soldier was patrolling in uniform with two other men as part of France's Vigipirate anti-terrorist surveillance plan when he was approached from behind and stabbed in the neck, with a knife or a box-cutter, Reuters reports.

French daily Le Parisien cited police sources as saying the suspected attacker was a bearded man of North African origin about 30 years old, and was wearing an Arab-style garment under his jacket.

"We still don't know the exact circumstances of the attack or the identity of the attacker, but we are exploring all options,"
French president, Francois Hollande, said of the incident.

Hollande refused to make a connection between the incident in Paris and the brutal murder of British military drummer, Lee Rigby, who was beheaded in Woolwich, South East London by two men, acting out of revenge for the UK’s involvement in Afghan and Iraqi wars.

"They tried to kill the soldier because he was a soldier," said  France's defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, AFP reported.

The Police Prefect for Paris’s Hauts-de-Seine area, Pierre-Andre Peyvel, said that despite losing a considerable amount of blood, the injured soldier would survive and was being treated in hospital. .

"The wound appears to be quite serious, but it's not life-threatening," he told iTele news television.

Peyvel said the attacker was able to flee into a crowded shopping area in the La Defense business neighborhood before the two other patrolling soldiers, were able to react.

However, Peyvel declined to confirm or deny the description of the perpetrator, which appeared in Le Parisien, saying that further details about his identity would follow.

France is currently on high alert for attacks by Islamist militants following its military operation in Mali this January, which prompted threats against French interests from the North African wing of Al-Qaeda.

Without a clear motive and reasoning for such attacks, there are two basic explanations that people tend to believe, activist and journalist Sukant Chandan told RT.

“People either take the French government or the British government are lying on things like Woolwich the other day, or what’s happening in Paris today, or they say it’s all about the foreign policy of France or Britain,” he said. “I think that these positions don’t hold enough substance as an explanation.”