Published: Mon, June 12, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

Notre Dame assailant cried 'It's for Syria'

Notre Dame assailant cried 'It's for Syria'

Dozens of armed police sealed off the area and the cathedral in central Paris that is visited by millions of tourists every year was locked down while the security forces secured the area.

Video posted on social media from the scene shows what appears to be the attacker laying motionless on the ground next to a police officer. "I heard two shots and saw a man lying on the ground in a pool of blood", one witness said.

The French prosecutor's office said its counter-terrorism unit has launched an investigation into the attack, which occurred as officers patrolled the esplanade in front of the cathedral, a popular tourist attraction.

The man who attacked a French officer with a hammer outside of Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday has been identified as an Algerian student in his 40s.

On Tuesday, a man attacked a police officer outside of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

"A person came up behind the police officers, armed with a hammer, and started to hit the police officer", Mr Collomb said.

The police officer was not seriously hurt, the minister said.

"We have passed from a very sophisticated terrorism to a terrorism where any instrument can be used for attacks", he said.

Paris is also reeling from an April attack at the Champs-Elysees that left a police officer dead.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nancy Soderberg was among the hundreds of people trapped inside the cathedral after the attack, the AP reports.

The incident, which occurred at around 4.20pm local time, prompted a lockdown at Notre-Dame Cathedral. "It looked as though they had surrounded someone at the stairs down to the Seine (River)", said the woman, who gave her name as Abigail M.

One holidaymaker tweeted: "Not the holiday experience wanted".

"It's terrifying and we keep saying amongst ourselves 'Oh my god, had we not stopped for a croissant we would be in the centre of all of that, we could've been shot'".

France is under a state of emergency and on its highest possible level of alert following a string of terror attacks that began in 2015, which have killed over 230 people.

Police seal off the access to Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France, Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

Lawrence Langner, a 73-year-old American, said he suddenly heard a commotion and two detonations like gunshots.

The gun shots created panic among tourists that had assembled outside Notre Dame.

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