A suspect arrested Wednesday has admitted to the weekend stabbing of a French soldier in Paris and was probably acting based on his “religious ideology,” Paris prosecutor Xavier Molins tells AFP news agency.
Molins said the man, named Alexandre and who turns 22 on Thursday, had converted to Islam and was known to police after undergoing an identity check in 2007 for praying on the street.
“The suspected perpetrator of the attack on a soldier Saturday evening in La Defense (business district) was arrested this morning,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement, reported AFP.
Sources close to the investigation said the 22-year-old man has been a follower of a “traditionalist even radical Islam for the last three or four years.”
The French soldier had been patrolling a business neighborhood west of Paris on Saturday when he was stabbed in the neck by a man who quickly fled the scene, President Francois Hollande said.
The soldier was patrolling in uniform with two other men as part of France’s Vigipirate anti-terrorist surveillance plan when he was approached from behind around 1800 p.m. and stabbed in the neck with a knife or a box-cutter.
Pierre-Andre Peyvel, police prefect for the Hauts-de-Seine area, said the soldier had lost a considerable amount of blood but would survive, and was being treated in a nearby military hospital.
“The wound appears to be quite serious, but it’s not life-threatening,” he told iTele news television, according to Reuters News Agency.
The attack came days after a British soldier was killed on a London street by two men who said they were acting out of revenge for violence against Muslims.