Paris police prefect says man ‘armed with a machete’ shouted threats and ‘Allahu Akbar’ at soldiers
A man has been shot and injured outside the Louvre museum in Paris after attempting a knife attack on soldiers patrolling the area.
One soldier was slightly injured in the incident, which was described by the French prime minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, as “terrorist in nature”.
The attempted attack took place at about 10am on a stairway in the Carrousel du Louvre, an underground shopping centre near the entrance to the Louvre, which is one of the world’s most-visited museums.
Two rucksacks carried by the suspected attacker were checked by bomb disposal specialists at the scene and were found not to contain explosives.
Michel Cadot, the Paris police prefect, said the man headed towards soldiers “armed with a machete” and shouting threats and “Allahu Akbar”. He was shot at five times and is in a serious condition.
Cadot told reporters: “We are dealing with an attack from an individual who was clearly aggressive and represented a direct threat, and whose comments lead us to believe that he wished to carry out a terrorist incident.”
He added: “There was also a second individual who was behaving suspiciously, who has also been detained, but for now there does not appear to be a link between that individual and the attack.”
Police sealed off entrances around the location of the attack and closed the area to vehicles. Pierre-Henry Brandet, an interior ministry spokesman, said visitors to the Louvre were held inside safe areas before the all-clear was given and they were allowed to move around as normal.
Donald Trump responded to the incident in a tweet that described the suspected attacker as “a new radical Islamic terrorist”. “Tourists were locked down. France on edge again. GET SMART US”, the president wrote.
Soldiers had been patrolling as part of the Opération Sentinelle foot patrols around French landmarks that have been in place since the attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Paris kosher supermarket in January 2015.
France remains on its highest state of alert, with thousands of troops patrolling the streets following a string of attacks in the last few years.
The Louvre, a huge former royal palace in the heart of the city, is home to the Mona Lisa and other world-famous works of art as well as a shopping centre and numerous exhibition spaces.
The museum was already suffering from a fall in visitor numbers after recent attacks in France. Last year, visitor numbers fell 15% from 2015 to around 7.3 million.