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Man Shot After Attacking Police Outside Paris' Notre Dame

Police sources said the officers shot at the man after he had threatened them with a hammer and refused to stop.

PARIS, June 6 (Reuters) - A man armed with a hammer shouted “this is for Syria” before attacking police officers on Tuesday outside France’s Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, the interior minister said.

The assailant wounded one officer before he was shot and wounded by other officers. The Paris prosecutor’s office swiftly began a counter-terrorism investigation.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the attacker was carrying the identification card of an Algerian student. He said preliminary information indicated the attacker had acted alone.

Dozens of armed police sealed off the area and the cathedral in central Paris that is visited by millions of tourists every year was locked down while the security forces secured the area.

French police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, June 6, 2017.
French police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, June 6, 2017.

It is the first attack since President Emmanuel Macron won last month’s election and comes days before a parliamentary poll in which opinion surveys show Macron on course to win a landslide majority. His rivals portrayed him as weak on security during the presidential campaign.

“Situation under control, one policeman injured, the assailant was neutralized and taken to hospital,” Paris police said on Twitter.

France is under a state of emergency after a wave of militant attacks since early 2015 that have killed more than 230 people across the country. Soldiers patrol its streets alongside police to guard tourist sites, government buildings and events.

Hundreds of tourists were inside the cathedral when the attacker struck.

French police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, June 6, 2017
French police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, June 6, 2017

One holidaymaker inside Notre Dame posted on Twitter: “Not the holiday experience wanted. Trapped in Notre Dame Cathedral after police shoot a man. We are with our 2 terrified children.”

Karine Dalle, a spokeswoman for the Paris diocese, told BFM TV 900 people were inside the cathedral as police secured the area.

Both France and Britain have suffered a spate of militant attacks in recent months.

In London, militants on Saturday drove a van at high speed into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing night revelers on the street and in nearby bars, killing at seven people and wounding dozens. That followed a suicide bombing in Manchester that killed 22 people.

In France, days before the first round of the presidential election in April, a policeman was shot dead and two others wounded. Islamic state claimed the attack as well as those in London and Manchester.

In September, three women were arrested after police found a car laden with gas cylinders abandoned near Notre Dame. The interior ministry at the time said it was likely an attack had been imminent.

(Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva and Emmanuel Jarry, editing by Larry King; Writing by John Irish and Richard Lough)

  • French police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, June 6, 2017. 
    Charles Platiau / Reuters
    French police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, June 6, 2017. 
  • Police sealed off the area in front of the cathedral, where the attacker lay injured on the ground.
    BERTRAND GUAY via Getty Images
    Police sealed off the area in front of the cathedral, where the attacker lay injured on the ground.
  • French police officials gather at a cordonned-off area.
    MARTIN BUREAU via Getty Images
    French police officials gather at a cordonned-off area.
  • Military guard the place around Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral.
    NurPhoto via Getty Images
    Military guard the place around Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral.
  • French police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
    Philippe Wojazer / Reuters
    French police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • French police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
    Charles Platiau / Reuters
    French police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • French gendarmes and police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
    Charles Platiau / Reuters
    French gendarmes and police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • French gendarmes and police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
    Charles Platiau / Reuters
    French gendarmes and police stand at the scene of a shooting incident near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • French Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb (C) addresses media representatives near the site of an attack at the entrance
    BERTRAND GUAY via Getty Images
    French Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb (C) addresses media representatives near the site of an attack at the entrance of Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • A French police officer holds a weapon as he stands near the entrance of Notre Dame Cathedral.
    MARTIN BUREAU via Getty Images
    A French police officer holds a weapon as he stands near the entrance of Notre Dame Cathedral.
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