Man killed in shootout after attacking three French police officers
A man with severe schizophrenia who had been on a watch list for Islamic radicalism has stabbed a police officer at her station in western France and shot two other officers before police killed him, authorities said.
He was a Frenchman in his 40s who had been on a watch list because of his “rigorous” religious practices, interior minister Gerald Darmanin said.
The assailant had recently been released from prison and was being monitored by psychiatric services, he added.
The three officers were wounded but are not in life-threatening condition, the minister said.
The motive for the violence in the Nantes suburb of La Chapelle-sur-Erdre was unclear, but Mr Darmanin told reporters at the scene that the man “clearly wanted to attack police”.
The attacker was born in France and did not have any convictions for terrorism-related crimes, he added.
The assailant, who lived in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, entered the police station on Friday morning saying he had a car problem, mayor Fabrice Roussel said.
He then stabbed the first police officer inside the station, apparently took her gun and fled, Mr Darmanin said. The officer was wounded in the leg and hand.
French police deployed helicopters, search dogs and more than 200 officers to find the suspect, and closed nearby schools and stores.
When he was located, he fired on officers trying to arrest him, Mr Darmanin said.
The suspect was wounded in an ensuing shootout and died of his injuries on Friday afternoon, according to a police official.
Police and ambulances blocked roads in the normally quiet residential area after the stabbing.
Domestic security and attacks on police are a big political issue ahead of regional elections next month and France’s presidential election next year.
Two police employees have been killed in France in recent weeks. An administrative official was stabbed inside her police station near Paris in what authorities are investigating as an Islamic extremist attack, and a drug squad officer was shot in the southern city of Avignon.