A suspect shot by police after the shocking beheading of a history teacher in an attack near Paris Friday was an 18-year-old Chechen, police said.
The French anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office said authorities investigating the horrific manslaughter in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine had also arrested nine suspects, including grandparents, parents and 17-year-old brother of attacker.
The teacher discussed the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad of Islam in his class, authorities said.
Chechnya is the largest Muslim republic of Russia in the North Caucasus. Two wars in the 1990s triggered a shift, with many Chechens heading to western Europe.
France has seen occasional violence involving the Chechen community in recent months, believed to be linked to local criminal activity and scoring.
A police officer said the suspect in the armed attack on Friday was shot nearly 600 meters (yards) from the teacher. He was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun ̵1; which fired plastic pellets – and police fired after he failed to respond to orders to drop his arms, and acted in a threatening manner. The officer could not be named because they were not allowed to discuss the ongoing investigation.
French President Emmanuel Macron rushed to the school on Friday night to denounce what he called the “Islamist terrorist attack.” He urged the country to stand united against extremism.
“One of our countrymen was killed today because he taught … freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or disbelieve,” Macron said.
French anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation into the murder of a suspected terrorist motive, the prosecutor’s office said.
This is the second time in three weeks that fear has struck France linked to the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Last month, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing two people with a meat cleaver outside the former office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
Weekly was the target of a deadly attack on the newsroom in 2015, and the prophet’s caricatures were republished this month to emphasize the right to freedom of information while opening a trial linked to that attack.
The terrorist attack on Friday came as the Macron government was working on a bill to address Islamic radicals, which authorities claim creates a parallel society outside the French Republic’s values.
The teacher received threats after opening a discussion “for a debate” about cartoons about 10 days ago, a police official told The Associated Press. A student’s parent filed a complaint against the teacher, another police officer said.
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