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French soldier fires on man trying to enter Louvre museum

Published: Updated:

A French soldier on Friday opened fire on and wounded a man armed with a knife who was trying to enter the Louvre museum in central Paris, a police source said.

One source said the man had been trying to get into the museum's underground shop and had attacked another soldier before being shot and seriously wounded. Police said the area had been evacuated.

The interior ministry said on Twitter the incident was "serious".

A spokewoman for Louvre said the museum was "closed for the moment" but would not confirm reports it had been evacuated.

A Reuters witness at the scene said police had cordoned off access to the museum.

France has been hit by a series of militant Islamist attacks over the past two years.

Louvre visitors learn of attack by loudspeaker, told to sit

Visitors to the Louvre learned by loudspeaker announcement of the attempted attack on the Paris museum and there was no panic, witnesses said, though some children cried as guards directed people to sit tight together and away from windows.

“(The announcement) came over the loudspeakers that are dotted around,” said Paul Lecher, 68, a retired Parisian and frequent Louvre visitor.

“Everything happened calmly,” he told Reuters. “It was just a case of listening ... People quickly understood, even those who didn’t understand a word of French, that something unusual was happening.”

Visitors were kept inside for a time after the attempted attack.

“There were announcements, then the security guards started running all over the place and after a short period they started gathering everybody up and getting them to one side of the building,” said Lance Manus, 71, from Albany, New York.

Manus and his wife Wendy said security guards made people sit tightly together, away from the windows, and that some children were crying.

“We sat there for over an hour waiting and finally they said we are going to evacuate... as we exited the police were searching and checking everybody.”

Asked by reporters if they had been scared, Manus said: “We come from the US, we have our scares just like you have.”