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Terror returns to Paris in Louvre attack

3 February 2017

11:34 AM

3 February 2017

11:34 AM

A man armed with a machete has been shot by a soldier outside the Louvre in Paris this morning. French police said the attacker – who is fighting for his life in hospital – yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he tried to gain access to the world-famous museum. Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has described the attack as ‘terrorist in nature’ and the French foreign minister has said the man involved was armed with several knives.

One of the things to say about the incident this morning was that it was over before it started. While the motivations behind the attack – and the identity of the man involved – will now be pored over and subject to intense scrutiny in the coming hours, it’s clear that the response of the French security services proved effective in halting an incident which could have been much, much worse.

The attacks on Paris in November 2015, in which 130 people lost their lives, exposed the city’s vulnerability to terrorism; in the wake of them, the authorities changed the way in which they react to threats. A state of emergency – which, in December, was extended for the fifth time, until after the French elections have taken place – was also imposed.

Whatever the merits of France resorting to a continuous state of emergency ever since, the response to today’s incident undoubtedly worked. The presence of heavily-armed soldiers meant the attacker was dealt with immediately. The post-Bataclan response also worked in other ways: visitors were taken to safe spaces within the Louvre, with pictures on social media showing people huddled on the floor as they waited to be evacuated safely. Anne Hidalgo, Paris’s mayor, has praised the response of security services for their ‘extreme efficiency’ in dealing with today’s attack. Francois Hollande has also responded to the attack by saying he ‘salutes the courage and determination demonstrated by the military’. Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen – who is officially launching her presidential campaign tomorrow – wrote on Twitter: ‘Support to our soldiers who are in the frontline against the Islamic threat & barbarity’.  It seems, on this occasion, quick thinking might have helped thwart an attack before it really began.


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