Man held on terror charges after two wounded in Paris cleaver attack

French police officers rush to the scene after people were injured near the former offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. (AFP)
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Updated 25 September 2020

Man held on terror charges after two wounded in Paris cleaver attack

  • Paris police said two people were "critically wounded" in Friday's attack near the paper's former offices in the French capital's 11th district
  • According to PNAT head Jean-Francois Ricard, the suspect was an 18-year-old Pakistani man

PARIS: A man armed with a meat cleaver wounded two in Paris Friday outside the former offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo before being arrested by police, three weeks into the trial of suspected accomplices in the 2015 massacre of the newspaper's staff.
France's PNAT specialist anti-terror prosecution office said it has opened a probe into charges of "attempted murder related to a terrorist enterprise" as well as "conspiracy with terrorists."
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the attack was "clearly an act of Islamist terrorism".
"It's the street where Charlie Hebdo used to be, this is the way the Islamist terrorists operate," Darmanin told broadcaster France 2.
"This is a new bloody attack on our country."
Charlie Hebdo has angered many Muslims around the world by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed over the years, and in a defiant gesture reprinted some of the caricatures ahead of the trial.
Twelve people, including some of France's most celebrated cartoonists, were killed in the attack on Charlie Hebdo by extremist gunmen on January 7, 2015.
Paris police said two people were "critically wounded" in Friday's attack near the paper's former offices in the French capital's 11th district. The magazine's new address is kept secret.
A large meat cleaver found near the scene is believed to have been used by the attacker.
Prime Minister Jean Castex, visiting the scene, said the lives of the two victims "are not in danger, thank God".
The Premieres Lignes news production agency said the wounded were its employees - a man and a woman taking a cigarette break outside.
"They were both very badly wounded," the founder and co-head of Premieres Lignes, Paul Moreira, told AFP.
Another employee, who asked not to be named, said he heard screams.
"I went to the window and saw a colleague, bloodied, being chased by a man with a machete."
The company specialises in investigative reports and produces the prize-winning Cash Investigation programme.
Paris prosecutors said the "main perpetrator" was arrested not far from the scene of the crime.
According to PNAT head Jean-Francois Ricard, the suspect was an 18-year-old man. Initial indications are that he was born in Pakistan.
Darmanin said the suspect had arrived on France three years ago as "an isolated minor".
Child welfare authorities said the suspect had shown "no sign of radicalisation" while under their care after arriving in France in August 2018 and claiming to be a minor.
A second person, aged 33, was arrested later and held for questioning to determine possible links to the "main perpetrator," said Ricard.
Five more people - all men born between 1983 and 1996 who were arrested in the Paris suburb of Pantin during a search of a property linked to the main suspect - were also being held for questioning, a judicial source said late Friday.
Five schools in the area went into lockdown for several hours after the attack, and half a dozen nearby metro stations were closed.
"Around noon we went for a lunch break at the restaurant. As we arrived, the manager started shouting 'Go, go there is an attack...' We ran to lock ourselves in our shop with four customers," Hassani Erwan, a 23-year-old barber, told AFP.
In a Twitter post, Charlie Hebdo expressed its support for "the people affected by this odious attack."
They were victims of "fanaticism" and "intolerance", Charlie Hebdo said, calling the main suspect and his possible accomplice "terrorists".
The stabbing came during the trial of 14 alleged accomplices of brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, the perpetrators of the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo that was claimed by a branch of Al-Qaeda.
A female police officer was killed a day later, followed the next day by the killing of four men in a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket by gunman Amedy Coulibaly.
The trial has reopened one of the most painful chapters in France's modern history, with harrowing testimony from survivors and relatives of those who died.
The magazine received fresh threats from Al-Qaeda this month after it republished the controversial cartoons.
More than 100 French news outlets on Wednesday called for continuing support for Charlie Hebdo against what they described as the "enemies of freedom".
Just this week, police relocated the paper's head of human resources, Marika Bret, from her home following death threats.
The trial, which opened on September 2, was suspended on Thursday after accused Nezar Mickael Pastor Alwatik fell ill in the stand.
When it resumed on Friday, an intelligence officer told the court that it was a "huge regret" that his services had been unable to prevent the 2015 attacks.
"Every attack felt like a failure for all of us," the officer said from behind an opaque screen set up to hide his identity.
He acknowledged that the perpetrators had attracted the attention of security forces years before the attacks, but that surveillance was dropped in 2014 after "we didn't detect any willingness on their part to act".


Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

Updated 22 October 2020

Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

  • Abu Dhabi’s Al-Ma’arid Street renamed President Joko Widodo Street

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said it was “an honor” for him and his country that a street in the UAE capital had been named after him.

Al-Ma’arid Street, one of Abu Dhabi’s key roads, was on Monday renamed President Joko Widodo Street during a ceremony that coincided with the first anniversary of the Indonesian leader’s inauguration for a second term in office.

Writing on social media, Widodo said: “It is a recognition and an honor, not only for me, but for Indonesia.” He also expressed hope that the two countries’ relations would be “stronger, mutually strengthening, and beneficial for the people of the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UAE, Husin Bagis, told Arab News: “The initiative to rename the street after President Joko Widodo came from His Highness (Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan), who also presided over the street renaming ceremony on the spot.”

The envoy said that the street was near to the future location of the Indonesian Embassy compound, which was currently under construction.

According to UAE news agency WAM, the crown prince has also directed officials to build a mosque named after Widodo, in Abu Dhabi’s Diplomatic Area, in recognition of the Indonesian president’s close friendship with the UAE and his efforts to strengthen the relationship.

Indonesia-UAE relations have grown closer since Widodo’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, during which he secured investment projects worth $22.9 billion in what has officially been described as the biggest trade deal in the country’s history. The visit was to reciprocate the crown prince’s trip to Indonesia in July 2019.

Recent cooperation agreements between the two countries have included plans for the construction of a mosque on a plot of land in Widodo’s hometown of Solo in Central Java.

The mosque will be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated to take place in December.

Widodo is the latest Indonesian leader to be celebrated through an honorific street name in a foreign country. In Rabat, Morocco’s capital, Avenue Sukarno was named after Indonesia’s first president, while Mohammed Hatta Street in Haarlem, the Netherlands, recognizes the Southeast Asian country’s first vice president. Sukarno and Hatta are considered the fathers of Indonesia’s independence.

The name of the country’s third president, B. J. Habibie, appears on a bridge in Dili, the capital of East Timor, in honor of his decision to hold a referendum there which allowed East Timor to secede from Indonesia.