French soldier injured in Paris knife attack

Saturday 25 May 2013 22.42
Soldier was patrolling subway in Paris business district when we was attacked
Soldier was patrolling subway in Paris business district when we was attacked

A French soldier patrolling a business neighbourhood west of Paris has been stabbed in the neck and injured by a man who fled the scene and is being sought by police, President Francois Hollande said.

The 23-year-old was patrolling in uniform with two other soldiers as part of France's Vigipirate anti-terror surveillance plan when he was approached from behind around 6pm and attacked with a knife or a box-cutter.

A police union spokesman said surveillance footage of the attacker showed him as tall and bearded, aged about 35, possibly of North African origin and wearing a white Arab-style tunic.

Mr Hollande, in the Ethiopian city of Addis Ababa, commented on the stabbing to say police were hunting for the attacker but did not provide any details about his identity or any possible motivation for the attack.

"We still don't know the exact circumstances of the attack or the identity of the attacker, but we are exploring all options," Mr Hollande told journalists.

Three days after a British soldier was killed in a London street by two men who said they acted to avenge violence against Muslims, the attack near Paris raised questions about a possible copycat attempt to kill a French soldier.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls noted the similarity in an interview on France 2 TV saying the attacker was clearly trying to murder his victim, but he added that it was too early to offer any theories.

"Let's be prudent for now," Valls said of the attacker's identity and motivations. "Everything is being done to arrest this individual."

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told journalists near the site of the attack: "The soldier was attacked because he is a soldier."

Pierre-Andre Peyvel, police prefect for the Hauts-de-Seine area west of Paris, said the soldier had lost a considerable amount of blood but would survive, and was being treated in a nearby military hospital. He was not named.

Witnesses near the commuter train station where the attack occurred gave conflicting descriptions of the fleeing suspect. One asserted on TV that he saw two men fleeing, while another said the scene was too confused to tell.