Paris Knife Attacker Sought to ‘Target French People’

Paris — A Mali-born man suspected of injuring several people with a knife and hammer at a Paris railway station deliberately sought out French people to attack, Paris prosecutors said Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the 32-year-old was charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault with a weapon, prosecutors said.

An investigating magistrate questioned the suspect earlier Tuesday. He was set to appear before another judge who will decide where he should be remanded in custody.

The man went on a stabbing spree at the Gare de Lyon station early Saturday, injuring at least three people. Gare de Lyon operates suburban, national and international routes to Switzerland and Italy.

His statements and the content of his phone “have led us to suspect that he did what he did to target French people because they belong to the French nation,” prosecutor Laure Beccuau said in a statement.

French anti-terrorism prosecutors were not becoming immediately involved.

Prosecutors suspected that the man selected targets based on their “race, ethnicity, nation or religion,” Beccuau said.

She added that the charges against the Malian carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Officials said a TikTok account had been opened in the name of the attacker. In a video dated December 2, 2023, the author of the account wrote: “RIP in three months. May Allah welcome me into his paradise.”

In other videos, the author expressed hostility towards France, referring to the French military operation in Mali to fight jihadists that ended in 2022.

A psychiatric evaluation has not shown any diminished criminal responsibility, the prosecutor said.

At 7:35 a.m. Saturday at the Gare de Lyon, the attacker first “set his rucksack on fire” and, armed with a hammer and a knife, chased a passer-by but did not manage to hurt her, according to the initial findings of the investigation reported by the prosecutors.

Several people intervened.

One of them suffered a stab wound to his abdomen and hammer blows to his head. He remained in critical condition Tuesday.

A second passenger tackled the suspect to the ground, while three others held him there.

Afterwards security guards and police officers took over.

“It was thanks to the immediate and courageous reactions of each of these people that the suspect’s violent course was interrupted,” said the public prosecutor.

The attacker has been a legal resident in Italy since 2016 and travelled legally to France on February 1, the prosecutor said.

Until 2021, the suspect lived in a center run by a Catholic association in Montalto Dora, northeast of Turin.

He had been monitored for psychiatric problems but never showed any violent tendencies, Italy’s Carabinieri police told AFP.

Each year more than 100 million passengers go through the Gare de Lyon.

Saturday’s incident recalled a January 2023 attack when a man wounded six people with a metal hook at another major Paris station, the Gare du Nord.

A source close to the case said a psychiatric assessment found the Libyan attacker of a year ago unfit to stand trial, saying he was suffering an “acute delirious state” on the day of the attack.


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