Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Notre Dame attacker yelled 'this is for Syria'

Notre Dame attacker yelled 'this is for Syria'

On Tuesday afternoon, the assailant, armed with a hammer and kitchen knives, targeted police officers outside Notre Dame Cathedral and slightly wounded a 22-year-old policeman while shouting "This is for Syria".

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

The unidentified suspect pulled the hammer from his backpack and injured a police officer on duty outside the cathedral, police union spokesman Yves Lefebvre told French news outlet BFM TV.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said preliminary information indicated the attacker had acted alone.

The incident, which occurred at around 4.20pm local time, prompted a lockdown at Notre-Dame Cathedral.

On June 11, France is due to go to the polls in the first round of parliamentary elections, with recently elected President Emmanuel Macron hoping to gain a majority in the National Assembly. "I heard two shots and saw a man lying on the ground in a pool of blood", one witness said. Michel said the attacker was "neutralized" by police.

Notre-Dame, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Paris, typically attracts long lines of visitors.

Both France and Britain have suffered a spate of militant attacks in recent months.

Officials have not indicated if the incident is terror-related, but French counter-terrorism police are handling the investigation, Paris police told NBC News.

The motive of the attacker has not yet been identified.

The main square has been evacuated and that a police operation is underway. After the incident, the cathedral building has been locked down, the people have been instructed to stay away from the area. Large numbers of police cars filled the area on the Ile de Cite island in the Seine River in the center of Paris.

Police sources said the officer sustained only minor neck injuries in the assault, which comes with France on high alert after jihadists killed seven people in London on Saturday.

Three major terrorist attacks in France, in January 2015, November 2015 and July 2016, claimed more than 230 lives, and the country remains under a state of emergency.

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