PARIS — A middle school teacher who recently showed his class caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad was decapitated by a man who was later shot dead by police in a suburb of northwest Paris on Friday, a police spokesperson told NBC News.
France’s anti-terror prosecutor is investigating the incident, which took place in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a spokesperson said, adding that the suspect moved to the nearby commune of Eragy Sur Oise where he was confronted by police officers.
The police spokesperson said that the suspect refused to put down his weapon.
“Shots were fired and the suspect was killed,” they said. A handgun was found near the suspect, they added.
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A large perimeter had been set up around the scene and the bomb squad was investigating because the attacker appeared to be wearing a vest, the spokesperson said. It was unclear whether it contained explosives.
They added that teacher had recently been threatened by parent after showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, published by the Charlie Hebdo magazine, to his students in a debate to discuss freedom of expression and blasphemy in France.
The police spokesperson said the suspect claimed the attack and posted an image of the victim on Twitter. The tweet was later removed.
French President Emmanuel Macron later attended the scene while Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin said he had set up a crisis center to deal with the attack.
The attack is one of a number to take place in the French capital in recent years. Last month, two people were stabbed and wounded near the former offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine where Islamist militants killed 12 people in 2015. A man originally from Pakistan was arrested.
In October 2019, Mickael Harpon, a 45-year-old IT specialist with security clearance to work in the Paris police headquarters, killed three police officers and one civilian employee before being shot dead by police. He had converted to Islam about 10 years earlier.
The French capital was also rocked by multiple gun-and-bomb attacks on entertainment sites around the city in November 2015, which left 130 people dead and 368 wounded. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, although two of the 10 known perpetrators were Belgian citizens and three others were French.
Nancy Ing reported from Paris and Henry Austin from London.