A fatal knife assault occurred at a public school in Arras, a city in northern France, on Friday, resulting in the death of a teacher and injuries to several others. The incident transpired around 11 a.m. local time at Gambetta High School. Reports indicate that a school employee is in critical condition after sustaining multiple stab wounds, while another teacher suffered less severe injuries.
The alleged perpetrator, a 20-year-old man of Chechen descent, is currently in police custody. Prior to the incident, French authorities had disclosed that the man was under active surveillance. During the assault, the suspect is said to have shouted “Allahu Akbar.” His brother has also been detained by the police.
The French national anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office has initiated an investigation into the incident, treating it as an act of terrorism. The suspect is under investigation for murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist initiative, as well as for associating with terrorist offenders in preparation for crimes against individuals.
French President Emmanuel Macron visited the school and denounced the attack, characterizing it as an act of “barbarism of Islamist terrorism.” He extended his condolences to the family of the deceased teacher and commended their courage, which he said saved many lives. Macron drew parallels to the murder of high school teacher Samuel Paty in a Paris suburb in October 2020, underscoring the ongoing threat of terrorism.
The Arras Prosecutor is anticipated to hold a press conference in the near future to provide more details about the incident. French police have cautioned the public against disseminating false information online and have advised them to steer clear of the area.
This incident underscores the enduring threat of terrorism in France and the difficulties authorities face in thwarting such acts. The investigation is expected to reveal more about the suspect’s motives and background, as well as any potential ties to extremist networks. The incident also prompts questions about the efficacy of surveillance measures and the necessity for increased security in educational institutions.
The safety of students and teachers remains a paramount concern, and the government is likely to face renewed demands for more robust measures to prevent future attacks. As the investigation progresses, France continues to wrestle with the complex issue of radicalization and the ongoing fight against terrorism.