PARIS — The French authorities opened a terrorism investigation on Friday after a knife-wielding assailant killed a police officer at a station about 25 miles southwest of Paris earlier than being shot useless.
France remains to be on excessive alert for terrorism after a string of assaults final fall, and Jean Castex, the prime minister, and Gérald Darmanin, the inside minister, shortly rushed to the scene of the assault in Rambouillet, a quiet, prosperous city.
“She was a policewoman,” President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter after the assault, figuring out the sufferer solely as Stéphanie. “We are going to yield nothing within the battle towards Islamist terrorism,” Mr. Macron added.
Mr. Castex advised reporters that the officer, who carried out administrative duties on the station, had been “cravenly” killed in “dramatic” circumstances, however he didn’t elaborate.
Jean-François Ricard, France’s high antiterrorism prosecutor, advised reporters on the scene that his workplace had opened an investigation however offered few particulars, saying solely that the assailant appeared to have scouted the realm beforehand.
Mr. Ricard didn’t affirm French information experiences that the attacker had shouted “Allahu akbar,” or “God is nice” in Arabic, through the assault, saying solely that the remarks he had made through the stabbing — in addition to the goal and the weapon used — pointed to a terrorist motive.
Linda Kebbab, a consultant for Unité SGP Police Drive Ouvrière, one in every of France’s principal police unions, stated the sufferer was close to the doorway to the police station shortly earlier than 2:30 p.m. when the assailant stabbed her within the neck.
“It’s a horrible shock,” Aurore Bergé, a lawmaker representing the Yvelines area, which is house to Rambouillet, for President Emmanuel Macron’s get together, said on Twitter.
France has been hit arduous by dozens of terrorist assaults over the previous decade. The latest high-profile episodes got here in October, when a historical past trainer was beheaded after exhibiting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a category on free speech in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, and three individuals had been stabbed to dying at a basilica in Good.
The stabbing on Friday came about as French lawmakers wrapped up work on a invoice pushed by Mr. Macron’s authorities to counter Islamist extremism in France. The assault is prone to additional amplify the prominence of the difficulty through the presidential election marketing campaign subsequent yr.
After a wave of large-scale assaults in 2015 and 2016 that killed tons of, France has confronted smaller spikes of Islamist terrorism perpetrated by remoted, self-radicalized people whom intelligence companies have discovered arduous to trace.
“As we speak we have to do a greater job following the underside of the spectrum: these people who are usually not perceived as probably the most harmful, however who can take motion with none forewarning,” Mr. Macron advised the newspaper Le Figaro this week.
Valérie Pécresse, a high regional official, stated the assailant had struck at “a logo of France,” a city within the countryside that she described as “so peaceable.”
Ms. Pécresse stated the police station in Rambouillet was nicely protected and that entry inside was restricted. The attacker, she stated, appeared to have waited for the sufferer to briefly exit the constructing.
French safety forces have been usually been focused by terrorists.
In 2016, an Islamic State assailant fatally stabbed an off-duty police officer and his companion, a police worker, at their house. In 2017, a gunman killed a veteran police officer on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. And in 2019, in one of many worst assaults on the French police up to now, a radicalized police worker stabbed 4 of his colleagues to dying on the Paris police headquarters.
The assault on Friday was adopted by widespread condemnation, particularly amongst Mr. Macron’s political opponents on the fitting and far-right, who’ve ramped up criticism of his safety file earlier than France’s 2022 presidential elections and frequently blame him for doing too little to guard the police and being too smooth on crime.
Marine Le Pen, the chief of the far-right Nationwide Rally get together and Mr. Macron’s principal rival in subsequent yr’s election, advised the BFMTV information channel that Mr. Macron’s administration was synonymous with “chaos.”
“The safety scenario in our nation has by no means been so important,” Ms. Le Pen stated. “I ponder if France has grow to be the nation most affected by terrorism in Europe. Does it hassle the federal government? I’m not even certain.”
Fixed Méheut and Norimitsu Onishi contributed reporting.