On Wednesday, soldier Lee Rigby was brutally murdered on the streets of Woolwich, London. On Saturday, a French anti-terror soldier, in uniform, was attacked in broad daylight in Paris, around 6 p.m. local time, his throat slashed by a man of North African origin.
The attacker ran off and authorities are searching for him. The victim was in a busy shopping area when the attacker struck. With Wednesday's soldier attack featuring in news reports around the world, there are fears that this was a copycat attack or even part of concerted terrorist activity.
According to the Mail Online:
Police in the French capital described the attacker as being ‘bearded, of North African origin and wearing a light-colored jihab’ under a jacket.
He pounced on the soldier outside a Virgin store in La Defense, the business district of the city, which was packed with Saturday afternoon shoppers.
The attacker used a sharp instrument usually used to open cardboard boxes, approaching his victim from behind. The victim was seriously injured, losing a lot of blood, but not killed. A military spokesperson said he would survive. Police believe the attack was attempted murder.
The French soldier was on duty, patrolling the business area of La Defense, as part of France's Vigipirate anti-terrorist surveillance plan, reports Sky News. He has been named as Private First Class Cedric Cordier.
Another terrorist attack will increase religious tensions. The attacker may have simply been an opportunist or he could have been acting as part of a concerted terrorist effort. French President Francois Hollande, on a visit to Ethiopia, said it is too early to confirm either way and the authorities are investigating all possibilities.
Although the incident may have simply been a random act of violence, it could have links to Mali. Four months ago France sent a contingent of soldiers into Mali to push back radical Islamist militants. Some French troops were withdrawn in April and more will follow. Saturday it was announced that a key stage in the French withdrawal had been reached.
Until the attacker is apprehended and investigations are complete, speculation is not productive. For now it is a worrying time in Europe.
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