Attack in Paris: the suspect targeted Charlie Hebdo and "assumes"

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The day after the chopper attack which left two injured in Paris, in front of the former premises of Charlie hebdo, the main suspect "took responsibility" on Saturday, admitting that he was targeting the satirical weekly which had recently republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, according to sources close to the investigation.

Arrested by police shortly after the attack, the 18-year-old man who claims to have been born in Pakistan assumes his act which he situates in the context of the republication of the cartoons he has not supported, one of these sources said on Saturday.

He believed that the premises targeted were still those of Charlie hebdo, according to this same source.

His police custody, which began at midday on Friday after his arrest near Place de la Bastille, has been extended by 24 hours, a judicial source told AFP.

In this investigation opened by the national anti-terrorism prosecution for attempted assassination in connection with a terrorist enterprise, it can be extended and last up to 96 hours, or even 144 hours in some cases.

Many police officers crowd at the corner of two streets. Some wear protective suits.

The police were deployed in large numbers on the scene of the attack, in the 11th arrondissement of Paris.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / ALAIN JOCARD

The attack took place in front of the First Lines press agency, whose building, located in eastern Paris, is the same one that housed the premises of Charlie hebdo, when the editorial staff was targeted by a deadly attack in 2015.

The writing of Charlie hebdo who moved to a secret location for four years had been the subject of new threats since this satirical weekly published again cartoons of Muhammad on September 2, for the opening of the trial of accomplices of the perpetrators of the 2015 attack .

Obviously this is an act of Islamist terrorism, said Friday the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, deploring a new bloody attack on our country.

A man arrived and attacked with a chopper two workers who were smoking in front of the building, a man and a woman, explained to AFP Paul Moreira, co-director of First Lines.

Their life is not in danger, however, assured French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Friday, who visited the scene.

The case 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 in Paris.

The three walk down the street escorted by the police.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo (left), Prime Minister Jean Castex (center) and Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin went to the scene of the attack on Friday.

Photo: Associated Press / Lewis Joly

Who is the suspect?

According to Mr. Darmanin, the main suspect, who arrived in France three years ago when he was a minor, had already been arrested in June in possession of a stabbing weapon, a screwdriver.

Supported by social assistance for children in the Paris region on his arrival in France, he did not present no sign of radicalization until his majority, last August.

Presented as itinerant corroborating sources, two of his presumed homes were searched Friday, a social hotel in Cergy and one in Pantin, in the northern suburbs of Paris.

Five men who were in this last alleged home were taken into police custody on Friday afternoon and a sixth on Friday evening, a former roommate of prime suspect when he was staying in the social hotel in Cergy, which brought the number of police custody to seven on Saturday morning.

In Pantin, the suspect's neighbors described him as a young man discreet and polished.

A 33-year-old Algerian, quickly arrested near the scene of the attack was released on Friday evening, put harmless according to a judicial source.

On Twitter, his lawyer Me Lucie Simon mentioned a heroic young man who tried to stop the assailant.

Friday's attack came during the trial of accomplices of the Kouachi brothers who massacred 12 people on January 7, 2015, opening a three-day black streak. The next day another jihadist, Amédy Coulibaly, killed a policewoman in the Paris suburbs, then four men of Jewish faith in the attack on a kosher store in Paris. All three will be slaughtered in two separate operations on January 9.

Since the wave of unprecedented jihadist attacks that began in 2015 in France and which left 258 dead, several have been perpetrated with knives, in particular at the Paris police headquarters in October 2019 or in Romans-sur-Isère ( south) last April.

Mr. Darmanin admitted that the threat against rue Nicolas Appert, where the attack took place, had been undervalued.

For his part, Luc Hermann, co-director of First Lines, deplored the fact that since the start of the trial Charlie hebdo, there was absolutely no securing of this symbolic street and building.

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