France’s Macron pays homage to ‘victims of terrorism’

French President Emmanuel Macron stands at attention by the coffins of the four victims of the Oct. 3 attack at Paris police headquarters, during a ceremony in Paris, France on Oct. 8, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 09 October 2019

France’s Macron pays homage to ‘victims of terrorism’

  • Macron paid homage to the 4 police officials killed by their own colleague
  • French prosecutors are investigating the killings as a potential act of terrorism

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron led a national tribute Tuesday to the four police employees slain in last week's knife attack in Paris, calling them victims of terrorism.
At a ceremony at the police headquarters where they were stabbed to death in last Thursday's bloody rampage, a solemn Macron endured drizzle as he paid homage to the three police officers and one police administrator killed by their own colleague, a 45-year-old deaf technology administrator.
"They had made the choice to wear the uniform, to devote their lives to protecting others. They died in service, at work," said Macron, who was also met privately with families of the victims.
French prosecutors are investigating the killings as a potential act of terrorism as it transpired the knifeman likely had links with members of an ultra-conservative extremist movement.
"The whole nation (must) unite, mobilize, act... We will only win if our country gets up to fight against this underground (extremism) that corrupts the children of France," he added.
He proposed establishing a "society of vigilance" to protect France, a country still reeling from numerous extremist attacks in recent years — but he warned the French against "suspicion that corrodes."
Though Interior Minister Christophe Castaner initially said there were "no warning signs" ahead of the attack, he has since acknowledged breaches in security over a failure to detect signals of the attacker's radicalization. The man had previously "justified" the deadly 2015 extremist attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in front of his colleagues. No written report was made at the time.
It took some 24 hours after the attack for authorities to say it was a potential act of terrorism, and the French government initially maintained there was nothing to suggest the armed attacker had any ties to extremist groups.
Earlier Tuesday, Castaner posthumously bestowed France's highest award, the Legion of Honor, on the four victims. The fifth fatality, the knifeman himself, was shot dead by a rookie officer who had completed police academy training six days before the attack.
Authorities said the attacker had worked for the Paris police force as a technology administrator in the intelligence unit since 2003 and didn't have a history of psychiatric problems.
Tuesday's ceremony came as justice officials said French investigators found a USB stick belonging to the killer containing information about his colleagues.
Officials did not immediately confirm several French media reports that the memory stick contained extremist propaganda.


Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

Updated 38 min 17 sec ago

Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

  • The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers
  • An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but local youths subsequently mobilized for an attack on the army position

JUBA: Clashes between soldiers and civilians during a disarmament exercise in the central South Sudanese town of Tonj have left 127 dead, the army spokesman said Wednesday.
Major General Lul Ruai Koang told AFP that the fighting erupted on Saturday as security forces carried out an operation to disarm civilians in the area which has seen deadly inter-communal clashes.
More than six years after a civil war broke out in the country, and in the absence of a functioning government, many communities are flush with weapons, which they keep for protection or defense against cattle raids.
The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers. An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but according to Koang the youths mobilized others for an attack on the army position.
“On the latest, the number of those killed, I can confirm to you that it rose to 127,” Koang said, adding that 45 of those killed were security forces and 82 were youths from the area.
A further 32 soldiers were injured.
Koang said two military officers involved in “triggering the clashes” had been arrested, and that the situation in Tonj had calmed down.
South Sudan is emerging from a six-year civil war that left 380,000 dead and millions displaced, and disarmament is a major stumbling block.
Experts have warned against operations that coerce people to lay down their guns without proper planning, as some communities could find themselves unable to protect themselves after their weapons are removed.
“The clashes should be an opportunity to rethink the approach to disarmament. What is the point of removing guns without addressing what drives folks to arms themselves?” Geoffrey Duke, head of the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, said on Twitter.
“We can take guns away this week & they buy a new one next week (as) long as they still see the need to have (one).”