French authorities have opened a terrorism investigation after a knife-wielding assailant killed one person and injured four others in the center of Paris.
The Paris prosecutor says counterterrorism authorities are investigating Saturday’s attack in a busy neighborhood of Paris’ Right Bank. The alleged attacker was killed by police.
Prosecutor Francois Molins said witnesses reported that the suspect shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is greatest” in Arabic.
Molins told reporters that based on the method of the attack, counterterrorism authorities are leading the investigation on potential charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with terrorist motives.
The ISIS group news agency claimed the suspect as one of its “soldiers” on Saturday night.
President Emmanuel Macron said France “once again pays the price of blood” after Saturday’s knife attack in Paris, but assured the country would yield “not an inch to the enemies of freedom”.
“I salute on behalf of all French people the courage of the police officers who neutralized the terrorist,” he added on Twitter, after the attack in the heart of the capital left one dead and four wounded.
Paris police tweeted that the attack occurred Saturday evening in the 2nd arrondissement or district of the French capital. Police said the person armed with the knife targeted five people, killing one and seriously injuring two and lightly injuring the other two.
Paris police said the attacker died. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the alleged attacker was “neutralized” by police and praised officers for the “sang-froid and reaction of the police who neutralised the attacker.”
The identity of the attack suspect and reason for the attack are unclear.
Collomb denounced the “odious attack” in a tweet. Paris has been under higher security in recent years after a string of deadly extremist attacks.
The attack took place near the city’s main opera house in an area full of bars, restaurants and theatres which were brimming on a weekend night.
A large area was cordoned-off where police, fire and rescue vehicles converged.
Shocked tourists and residents looked on from behind the security perimeter.
“I was on the cafe terrace, I heard three, four shots, it happened very fast,”said 47-year-old Gloria.
“Then the bartenders told us to come inside very quickly. Then I went out to see what was going on, and then I saw a man on the ground,” she added.
The attack comes as France is under a constant threat from terrorism. A string of extremist attacks have claimed the lives of over 245 people around France in the past three years.
France has been on high alert as a series of attacks commissioned or inspired by ISIS have hit the country over the past three years.