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)
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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.”


Italy’s Lombardy region to impose virus curfew

Updated 13 min 29 sec ago

Italy’s Lombardy region to impose virus curfew

  • The curfew from 11pm to 5am is expected to begin on Thursday night and last to November 13
  • More than 10,000 new Covid-19 infections were recorded in Italy on Friday for the time ever

ROME: Italy’s northern Lombardy region prepared Tuesday to impose a nighttime curfew, the most restrictive anti-coronavirus measure the country has seen since emerging from a national lockdown in the spring.
The curfew from 11pm (2100GMT) to 5am is expected to begin on Thursday night and last to November 13.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza gave his consent late Monday to the more restrictive measure proposed by the regional government, after an hours-long meeting.
“It’s an appropriate and symbolically important initiative that shouldn’t have particularly serious economic consequences,” Regional President Attilio Fontana said in the newspaper La Repubblica on Tuesday.
More than 10,000 new Covid-19 infections were recorded in Italy on Friday for the time ever, with Lombardy the hardest hit region, as it was in the beginning of the health crisis in February.
The region, which includes Italy’s financial hub of Milan, reported 1,687 new cases on Monday, with Italy’s southern Campania region coming a close second with 1,593.
Since Italy became the first hard-hit European country earlier this year, more than 36,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the country.
On Saturday, Lombardy ordered its bars to shut at midnight and prohibited the consumption of food and drink in public outside areas.
Italy has put in place recent restrictions to try to stem the new wave of infections, but none have so far imposed a curfew.
They include banning amateur contact sports, such as football matches, school trips, and restricting bars and restaurants to table service after 6pm.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he does not envision another country-wide lockdown, which would further sap Italy’s struggling economy, but has said that he would not rule out limited ones.
Lombardy’s curfew is expected to only allow people to leave their home for reasons of health, work or necessity.
The new decree will also call for large shopping centers to be shut on weekends, according to Italian media reports.