France checks video claim for Paris knife attack

Police officers gather in the area of a knife attack near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Friday Sept. 25, 2020 in Paris.(AP)
Short Url
Updated 27 September 2020

France checks video claim for Paris knife attack

  • Friday’s attack left two badly wounded outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in Paris
  • Six people are still in custody, including the suspected perpetrator

PARIS: French investigators were Sunday studying a video claiming responsibility for the meat cleaver attack in Paris that targeted satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo as the government condemned an act of “Islamist terrorism.”
Six people were still in custody, including the suspected perpetrator of Friday’s attack that left two badly wounded outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in Paris.
The man is an 18-year-old born in Pakistan named as Hassan A, according to a source close to the investigation.
Held since Friday, he told investigators he had carried out the attack to avenge the republication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by Charlie Hebdo, which was the target of a January 2015 massacre by Islamist gunmen.
The investigators were now seeking to authenticate a video which they believe could show Hassan A. announcing he was about to carry out the attack.
“We see him crying, chanting. He claims in advance his act by evoking the republication of the caricatures,” said the source, who asked not to be named.
“It is a kind of manifesto, he announces he is going to act,” the source said, adding: “It is not a claim of allegiance to an organization.”
The suspect was born in the Pakistan town of Mandi Bahauddin and while he speaks a little French he has needed a translator during questioning, the source close to the investigation said.
He is believed to have entered France three years ago while still a minor and had showed no risk of radicalization despite once being stopped for carrying a weapon.
The two people wounded were employees of prize-winning TV production agency Premieres Lignes, whose offices are in the same block that used to house Charlie Hebdo in the center of the capital .
However it is not believed that the two, whose lives are not in danger, were specifically targeted.
The man mistakenly believed Charlie Hebdo’s offices were still in that building and wanted to attack journalists from the magazine, according to his statement to investigators.
One person arrested was released overnight. But as well as the main suspect eight others were still being held.
They include his younger brother and people who lived with him at his last place of residence in northern Paris.
Police on Sunday also detained a woman who had been living at the same residence, a judicial source said, without giving further details.
The arrests were aimed at understanding the “environment” of the main suspect, a source close to the case said, adding: “Everything leads us to think he acted alone.”
An Algerian man, detained close to the scene of the attack, had also been released. His lawyer said her client had actually been “heroically” chasing the attacker.
The attack came three weeks into a trial in Paris of suspected accomplices in the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo, a policewoman and a Jewish supermarket that left 17 people dead.
The bloodshed heralded a wave of Islamist violence in France that has so far left 258 people dead.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin acknowledged that the authorities could have become complacent over the terror risk after a relative lull in high-profile attacks in recent years.
“We are in an extremely critical situation, we are at war with Islamist terrorism. Maybe, collectively, we put this behind us,” he said.
Darmanin said the threat was still real, noting 32 attacks had been foiled over the last three years. “It is around once a month,” he said.
President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government has in recent weeks begun using increasingly tough rhetoric on domestic security issues in what analysts see as a shift to the right.
Macron’s anti-terror adviser Laurent Nunez told AFP that France had “improved in the detection” of extremists but “still had to tighten the net more.”


Taiwan says won’t be intimidated by China’s ‘hooligan’ diplomats

Updated 3 min 59 sec ago

Taiwan says won’t be intimidated by China’s ‘hooligan’ diplomats

  • The Pacific is a major source of competition between the two
  • ‘China’s officials posted overseas are acting like hooligans; beating people is not acceptable’
TAIPEI: Taiwan will not be intimidated by China’s “hooligan” officials and will continue to celebrate its national day around the world, the government said on Tuesday, after Taiwan said Chinese diplomats had tried to charge into a diplomatic event in Fiji.
Taiwan’s charges, including that a Taiwanese diplomat ended up in hospital after the altercation, are hotly disputed by China, which views the democratically-run island as its own territory with no right to formal state-to-state ties.
The Pacific is a major source of competition between the two, where Taiwan has official diplomatic relations with four countries, though not Fiji.
Taiwan says the Chinese diplomats were trying to take pictures of a Taiwan national day event at a hotel to see who was there, and that in the altercation that followed people from both sides were injured.
Speaking in Taipei, Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said Taiwan was a “peace-loving country” that invited people to events around the world for its Oct. 10 national day, which marks the founding of the Republic of China, Taiwan’s official name.
“Going forward we will continue to hold national day receptions,” she said. “This will not change.”
China can spread as many lies as it likes but Taiwan shouldn’t pay too much attention, Ou said.
“The reality is this year we had 108 offices hold national day events in different ways, inviting the world to celebrate our birthday.”
Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the world needed to see what China was capable of, saying what they did was a “barbaric act.”
“China’s officials posted overseas are acting like hooligans; beating people is not acceptable. We sternly condemn this,” he told reporters.
The issue was hard to deal with because the Chinese diplomats there have diplomatic immunity, Su added.
“But we must appeal to the international community with the relevant evidence.”
Fiji’s foreign ministry has yet to comment on the incident, though Ou said Fiji’s government had been trying to mediate to bring a close to the issue.