A man on Friday attacked two people with knives in the middle of the street next to the former premises of Charlie hebdo in Paris, during the trial of accomplices of the perpetrators of the massacre, five and a half years earlier, of the editorial staff of this satirical weekly which criticized Islamism.
The anti-terrorist justice system has taken up the case which has revived in France the painful memory of 2015, marked in particular by the January attacks against Charlie hebdo, and those, even more deadly of November 13.
The two injured work for a production company, First Lines, but their days are “not in danger”, declared Prime Minister Jean Castex, who arrived on site at the beginning of the afternoon at rue Nicolas Appert, in the east. of Paris, crisscrossed by dozens of armed police.
“It’s so tragic to see footage of an attack again [rue] Nicolas Appert, five and a half years after the one against Charlie. This violence is a danger for all of us, in France and elsewhere ”, reacted on Twitter the secretary general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Christophe Deloire.
Jean Castex expressed the “unwavering attachment” of the government “to freedom of the press, its resolute will by all means to fight terrorism”.
Principal perpetrator arrested
The writing of Charlie hebdo, installed in a place kept secret and under high protection since the Islamist attack that had decimated its editorial staff, brought on Twitter “His support and solidarity with his former neighbors and colleagues […] and to those affected by this heinous attack ”.
“The main perpetrator has been arrested and is currently in police custody,” said Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz, present at the scene. He did not give further details on his profile or possible motive, adding that a second person had been arrested to verify his “relationship with the principal perpetrator”.
The investigation is open for “attempted assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “criminal terrorist association”.
“Two colleagues were smoking a cigarette downstairs in the street. I heard screams. I went to the window and saw a colleague of mine, stained with blood, being chased by a man with a machete in the street, ”testified an employee of the production company First Lines, located in this street.
This news agency, next to Charlie, had witnessed the attack carried out by the jihadist brothers Kouachi in January 2015 in the editorial staff of the weekly.
The suspect was arrested at Place de la Bastille, not far from the scene of the attack, the police headquarters said.
Five schools housing thousands of students were also for a time confined within the perimeter.
“Around noon, we went for a lunch break at the restaurant. When we arrived, the boss started shouting “go, go, there is an attack!”… We ran away to lock ourselves up and stay inside our shop with four customers ”, told l ‘AFP Hassani Erwan, 23, a hairdresser installed nearby.
This attack comes during the trial of the accomplices of the Kouachi brothers who had massacred 12 people on January 7, 2015, opening a three-day black sequence. The next day another jihadist, Amédy Coulibaly, killed a policewoman in the Paris suburbs, then four Jewish men in the attack on the Hyper Cacher store in Paris. All three will be slaughtered in two separate operations on January 9.
This series of attacks seized France and had a worldwide impact, leading in particular to a monster demonstration against terrorism on January 11, bringing together a large number of foreign dignitaries.
On Friday, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, said on Twitter his “full solidarity with the French people”, like the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, in the face of this “vile attack”.
New threats against Charlie
This attack comes as the editorial staff of Charlie hebdo has been the subject of new threats since the weekly republished cartoons of Muhammad on September 2, for the start of the trial, scheduled until November 10, for the January 2015 attacks.
After a short stay in the trial, the hearing resumed without any mention by the Paris Special Assize Court of the attack, according to an AFP journalist.
At the start of the week, the director of human resources at Charlie hebdo, Marika Bret, had been exfiltrated from her home because of threats considered serious.
The Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, then asked that “we can reassess the threats weighing on journalists and collaborators of Charlie hebdo ”.
Around 100 media outlets – newspapers, magazines, TV channels, radio stations – published an open letter on Wednesday calling on the French to mobilize in favor of freedom of expression.