French teacher stabbed to death 'saved many lives' says Macron as 7,000 officers placed on high alert

14 October 2023, 12:51 | Updated: 14 October 2023, 12:55

French president Emmanuel Macron has said the teacher stabbed in a terrorist attack in Arras 'saved many lives' after the country's terror alert was raised to its highest level.
French president Emmanuel Macron has said the teacher stabbed in a terrorist attack in Arras 'saved many lives' after the country's terror alert was raised to its highest level. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

French president Emmanuel Macron has said the teacher stabbed in a terrorist attack in Arras 'saved many lives' after the country's terror alert was raised to its highest level.

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Dominique Bernard, a literature teacher in his 40s, was stabbed to death allegedly by a Chechen refugee at Gambetta high school in Arras at 11am local time yesterday.

The attack was reportedly heeding calls by Hamas to unleash a 'day of Jihad' upon the West.

"This school was struck by the barbarity of Islamist terrorism," Macron said after visiting the school.

"The teacher who was killed had come forward to protect others and without doubt saved many lives."

French President Emmanuel Macron talks to the press at the Gambetta high school in Arras, northeastern France
French President Emmanuel Macron talks to the press at the Gambetta high school in Arras, northeastern France. Picture: Alamy

France has declared a maximum security alert in the wake the attack.

According to France's interior minister, the attack was linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

A maximum security alert - the highest level - means "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.

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

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

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, according to police.

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

All schools in the city were put under lockdown and police have been put on high alert.

Footage of the attack has been shared on social media.

Students filmed the knife attack from their classroom windows. In the clip, the attacker, armed with a knife, can be seen swinging at people in the school’s car park.

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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