A history teacher who had shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class was beheaded on Friday and his attacker shot dead by French police as they tried to arrest him, police and prosecutors said.
French counterterrorism prosecutors said they were investigating the assault that took place on the outskirts of Paris around 5 p.m. (3 p.m. GMT) near a school in Conflans Saint-Honorine, a western suburb of the French capital.
According to a police source, the victim was a history teacher who recently discussed the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class.
Prosecutors said they were treating the incident as “murder linked to a terrorist organization” and linked to “criminal association with terrorists”.
The allegations are similar to the charges last month against a 25-year-old Pakistani who injured two people in a meat grinder attack to avenge the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.
The assailant seriously injured two employees of a television production agency, whose offices are in the same building that previously housed Charlie Hebdo. Both survived.
The attack came three weeks after the start of an ongoing trial of alleged accomplices of the perpetrators of the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, which also saw a policewoman gunned down in the street.
Seventeen people have been killed during the three-day frenzy that heralded a wave of Islamist violence in France that has so far claimed more than 250 lives.
The trial sparked protests across France, with thousands of protesters rallying against Charlie Hebdo and the French government.
Police arrived at the scene on Friday after receiving a call about a suspicious individual loitering near the school, a police source said.
There, they found the dead man and, nearby, saw the suspect armed with a knife-shaped weapon which threatened them as they tried to stop him.
They opened fire and seriously injured him, the source said. He later died of his injuries, a forensic source said.
The scene was cordoned off and a demining unit was dispatched due to the alleged presence of an explosives vest, the police source said.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, visiting Morocco, returned to Paris immediately after meeting with Prime Minister Jean Castex and President Emmanuel Macron, his office said.
Macron was due to join key ministers in a crisis group set up at the Interior Ministry, the president’s office said.
The attack comes just days after a supporter of the Islamic State terrorist group who attacked a policeman outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with a hammer was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Farid Ikken, 43, indicted officers on patrol in front of the cathedral on June 6, 2017, shouting “this is for Syria”.