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Terrorism

Tunisian suspect in fatal attack of a French police officer was ‘quiet’: Cousin

Published: Updated:

Relatives of a Tunisian man who stabbed to death a police employee in France in a suspected extremist attack said Saturday he was “quiet” and not a devout Muslim.

They identified the assailant as Jamel Gorchene, 36.

His immediate relatives were in a state of shock after Friday’s attack in the commuter town of Rambouillet near Paris and refused to speak to the media.

But a cousin, who identified himself as Noureddine, said Gorchene was “a quiet person, not particularly pious.”

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A brother-in-law said Gorchene recently returned home to Tunisia where he spent two weeks.

Gorchene’s parents live in a modest, one-storey house in the town of M’saken in northeastern Tunisia, near the port city of Sousse.

Gorchene was shot and fatally wounded by an officer at the scene of Friday’s attack after stabbed a 49-year-old mother of two at the entrance of a police station.

A source close to the inquiry told AFP the knifeman shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) during the attack.

Chief anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard confirmed “comments made by the assailant” indicated a terror motive.

The assailant had arrived in France illegally in 2009 but had since obtained residency papers, a police source said. He had just moved to Rambouillet.

Gorchene’s father and two other people were taken into custody on Friday, and questioning was continuing on Saturday as police delve into his background, contacts and possible motives, officials in France said.

The father, according to the cousin Noureddine, retired a decade ago after having worked in construction in Nice but often visited the French city.

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