France to deploy 7,000 soldiers for extra security after fatal school stabbing 'linked to Israel-Hamas conflict'

14 October 2023, 10:32

Police outside the school in France after a knifeman launched an attack on teachers
Police outside the school in France after a knifeman launched an attack on teachers. Picture: Social media/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

France will mobilise up to 7,000 soldiers to increase security after a knifeman went on a rampage at a school.

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The attack, which left one teacher dead and several others injured, was linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to France's interior minister.

President Emmanuel Macron has now ordered up to 7,000 soldiers deployed by Monday night and until further notice to bolster security and vigilance around France, his office said.

It comes after the government declared a maximum security alert, meaning "vigilance and maximum protection in the event of an imminent threat of a terrorist attack or directly after an attack".

There are also "concerns the whole territory may be targeted".

A source told Le Parisien the man rushed into school shouting “Allahu Akbar" as he attacked the Gambetta high school in Arras on Friday morning.

The suspect had been held by police for questioning on suspicion of radicalism the day before the attack.

A teacher was killed, a security guard was left critically injured after being stabbed multiple times, and another teacher was seriously hurt, French news outlet Le Figaro said.

At the school on Saturday morning, police stood guard as adults and children trickled in.

Classes were cancelled, but the school reopened for those who wanted to come together or seek support.

Read more: Heroes fight off attacker with a chair after rampage that killed teacher at school in France

One of the victims tries to keep the attacker at bay with a chair
One of the victims tries to keep the attacker at bay with a chair. Picture: Social Media

Students filmed the knife attack from their classroom windows and later shared footage online.

In one clip, the attacker, armed with a knife, can be seen swinging at people in the school’s car park.

According to local reports, a man of Chechen origin and his brother were arrested at the scene.

The attacker was on the national security register.

Read More: Israeli shelling along Lebanon border kills one journalist and injures six

The attack unfolded at the Gambetta High School in Arras, France
The attack unfolded at the Gambetta High School in Arras, France. Picture: Google Street View

One of the victims tries to keep the attacker at bay with a chair before he falls to the ground, where he appeared to be stabbed.

One pupil told local news outlet La Voix du Nord: "We were leaving class to go to the canteen when we saw the guy with two knives attacking the teacher, who had blood on him.

"He tried to calm him down and protect us. He told us to leave, but we didn’t really understand, so we ran and others went back upstairs."

French media outlet BFMTV quoted police sources saying the suspect was a former pupil at the school.

The attack comes after former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal demanded Muslims take to the streets to demonstrate amid the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza.

Meshaal said: “[We must] head to the squares and streets of the Arab and Islamic world on Friday.”

Muslims protested in support of Hamas in Baghdad’s Tahir Square and in Tokyo Muslims stood toe-to-toe with police outside the Israeli embassy in the city.

The chairperson of the Indonesian Mosque Council had urged all mosques to perform a prayer so that “the conflict in the Gaza Strip would end quickly.”

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