The Louvre Museum in Paris is evacuating all visitors and staff and closing early today because it received a written threat.
The Louvre said the move was linked to the government’s decision to put France on high alert after a fatal school stabbing by a suspected extremist.
No one has been hurt and no incident has been reported. Paris police said verifications in the museum are underway.
Alarms rang out through the vast museum in central Paris overlooking the Seine River when the evacuation was announced, and in the underground shopping center beneath its signature pyramid.
The French government raised the threat alert level and is deploying 7,000 troops to increase security after Friday’s school attack. French authorities say a former student suspected of Islamic radicalization killed a teacher and wounded three other people before being captured.
The Louvre Museum in Paris is evacuating all visitors and staff and closing early today because it received a written threat
The Louvre said the move was linked to the government’s decision to put France on high alert after a fatal school stabbing by a suspected extremist
The French government raised the threat alert level and is deploying 7,000 troops to increase security after Friday’s school attack
Dominique Bernard, 57, a French literature teacher, was murdered – allegedly at the hands of 20-year-old Chechen refugee Mohamed Mogouchkov – at Gambetta high school in Arras at 11am local time
Police cordoned off the monument from all sides, and the underground access, as tourists and other visitors streamed out. Videos posted online showed people leaving, some hurriedly and some stopping to take photos, others apparently confused about what was happening.
The government is also concerned about fallout in France from the war between Israel and Hamas.
The Louvre, home to masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, welcomes between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors per day.
Dominique Bernard, 57, a French literature teacher, was murdered – allegedly at the hands of 20-year-old Chechen refugee Mohamed Mogouchkov – at Gambetta high school in Arras at 11am local time.
Mr Bernard, a father of three girls, was married to an English teacher at the school, and had tried to reason with Mogouchkov when he stormed into the school playground with two knives.
He then went on the rampage, killing Mr Bernard, and then severely wounding two other adult members of staff.
Witnesses said the attacker could be heard to shout ‘Allahu Akbar’, while French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said the incident bore a link to the Middle East as Palestinian terror group Hamas called on Muslims to demonstrate on a ‘day of Jihad’.
This handout photo released by an anonymous source on October 13, 2023 shows the suspected perpetrator (C) of a knife attack being escorted by a policeman outside of the Gambetta high school in the town of Arras, northern France
A video shows a confrontation between two men in the school grounds
French President Emmanuel Macron (centre) arrives at the Gambetta high school in Arras
Officers stand guard in front of Gambetta high-school in Arras yesterday after a teacher was killed
People lay flowers outside Gambetta high school this morning, after a teacher was killed yesterday and two other people severely wounded in a knife attack
Scores of floral tributes have been left outside the school by members of the public
Police officers hold flowers as they stand guard at the entrance of the Gambetta high school
‘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.’
France has upped its alert level to the highest position following a crunch security meeting chaired by Macron, and will deploy 7,000 soldiers to maintain order.
President Macron told reporters another attempted terror incident had been foiled by security forces.
According to the interior ministry, the president was referring to the arrest of a ‘radicalised’ man who was detained as he left a prayer hall in the Yvelines region of Paris while carrying a prohibited weapon.
A total of eight people were in police custody yesterday following Mr Bernard’s death, a police source said.
In addition to the attacker, several members of his family were arrested ‘for the purposes of the investigation’, including one of his brothers and his sister, other police sources said.
The national anti-terrorist prosecutor announced that it has opened an investigation.
Moguchkov, who is in his 20s, is from Russia’s mainly Muslim southern Caucasus region of Chechnya.
He was already on a French national register known as ‘Fiche S’ as a potential security threat, a police source said, and under electronic and physical surveillance by France’s domestic intelligence agency the DGSI.
Mr Bernard, a French teacher, was stabbed in the throat and chest.
Among those wounded were a school security guard who was stabbed multiple times and is fighting for his life, and a teacher in a less serious condition, the source added.
A cleaner was also hurt, according to anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard.
No pupils at the school were hurt, another police source said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and officials arrive at the site
French police officers from the forensic service stand in front of the Gambetta high school in Arras
A pupil is comforted by a relative as he leaves Gambetta high-school in Arras, where a teacher was killed and two others were severely wounded
Police investigate following the stabbing at the school in Arras on Friday morning
Emergency services attend the scene of the fatal attack which took place around 11am local time (10am GMT) at the Gambetta high school in the city of Arras
The attack comes almost three years to the day after the October 16, 2020 beheading of teacher Samuel Paty, also by a Chechen, near his school in a Paris suburb.
‘Three years after the assassination of Samuel Paty, terrorism has struck a school again and in a context that we all know,’ Macron said.
Macron traveled to Arras along with the interior and education ministers. The French president stopped for a moment before the blanket-covered body of the teacher, which was in the parking lot in front of the school.
A puddle of blood was visible as forensic experts worked around the body. Macron then went to see students from the school in an adjacent building.
At least two other people were wounded, including a security agent who was stabbed multiple times and a teacher who is in a less serious condition, a source added. No pupil at the school was hurt.
Both Mogouchkov and his brother, who was also taken into custody, were known to the authorities and were on the national security watchlist, police said.
Mogouchkov’s brother is said to have spent 18 months in prison for distributing ISIS propaganda online, and Mogouchkov was also a known ISIS sympathiser, sources said.
Sliman Hamzi, a police officer who was one of the first on the scene said Mogouchkov, a former pupil at the school, shouted: ‘Allahu Akbar’ – ‘God is great’ in Arabic.
Mr Hamzi said he was alerted by another officer who was passing in front of the high school and called in. He ‘was shouting: ‘Someone is attacking with a knife,” Mr Hamzi said.
‘Colleagues arrived quickly but unfortunately couldn’t save the victim,’ Mr Hamzi said.
Fabien Dufay, a PE teacher at the school said he had taught Mogouchkov in his final year ‘three years ago’.
He described him as a ‘reserved, calm student with whom I had completely normal conversations.’
The attacker ‘had two knives in his hands,’ says another teacher at the school, who asked not to be named.
‘He turned to me and said, ‘Are you a history teacher? Are you a history teacher?’,’ said the teacher, who then hid behind a glass door.
He added: ‘It was only when I left that I was able to see that the attack was much more serious than I thought. Someone was dead in front of the school.’
Clips of what appear to be the attack circulated by students on social media show how a man appears to lunge at victims in the courtyard.
One of the victims holds a chair between himself and the attacker to defend himself but is ultimately bundled to the ground and sustains several blows.
Students meanwhile barricaded themselves in classrooms and were told to remain inside, before being allowed out in the afternoon.
A large security cordon was set up around the school where parents had gathered, and police, firefighters and emergency services were deployed.
Martin Dousseau, a philosophy teacher who witnessed the attack, described a moment of panic during break-time, when schoolchildren found themselves face-to-face with the armed man.
‘He attacked canteen staff. I wanted to go down to intervene, he turned to me, chased me and asked me if I was a history and geography teacher,’ Dousseau said.
‘We barricaded ourselves in, then the police arrived and immobilised him.’
The attack in Arras comes almost three years to the day after the murder of Paty, also by a Chechen extremist, which took place on October 16, 2020.
It also comes with tensions rising in France, which has large Jewish and Muslim communities, after last weekend’s attack by Hamas on Israel.
President Emmanuel Macron said in an address to the nation on Thursday that 582 religious and cultural facilities in France were receiving stepped-up police protection.
‘Those who confuse the Palestinian cause and the justification of terrorism commit a strong moral, political and strategic error,’ he said.
His office said he would head to the scene in Arras.
There has also been controversy over the French government’s ban on pro-Palestinian protests following the Hamas attack, with the left lamenting it was no longer possible to protest for peace but the right saying the measures did not go far enough.
French police officers from the forensic service stand in front of the Gambetta high school in Arras
French police and fire fighters secure the area after a teacher was killed and several people injured in a knife attack at the Lycee Gambetta-Carnot high school in Arras, northern France
People stand near the Lycee Gambetta-Carnot high school after a teacher was killed and several people injured in a knife attack in Arras, northern France, October 13, 2023
French police officers from the forensic service stand in front of the Gambetta high school
French Education and Youth Minister Gabriel Attal (second right) arrives at Gambetta High School yesterday as the nation reels in shock over the murder of one of its teachers
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Thursday ordered that the demonstrations be prohibited nationwide as they ‘are likely to generate disturbances to public order,’ adding that organisers should face arrest.
This is the latest incidence of what appears to be a growing problem of knife violence in France.
In June this year, a knifeman stabbed four children at a lakeside park in the French Alps, assaulting at least one in a stroller repeatedly.
The attacker, a 31-year-old Christian Syrian refugee with permanent Swedish residency, mentioned his daughter, his wife and Jesus Christ during the attack in the lakeside town of Annecy.
The stabbing follows a series of bomb, gun and knife attacks carried out by Islamic State and al-Qaeda operatives in France, dating back to early 2015.
The deadliest single terrorist attack ever in the country came in November 2015 when 130 people were killed in Paris after suicide bombers pledging allegiance to ISIS targeted the Stade de France, cafes, restaurants and the Bataclan music venue, where 90 died.
Earlier in the year, two Paris-born gunmen linked to Al-Qaeda broke into the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, leaving 17 people dead inside and three outside.
In July 2016, 86 people were called and more than 400 injured when a 19 tonne truck was deliberately driven into crowds on the seafront promenade in the southern city of Nice.
The terrorist turned out to be a Tunisian immigrant who was shot dead by police.
During the same month, two Isis terrorists murdered an 86-year-old Catholic priest during a church service in Normandy.
And in October 2020, three people were stabbed to death by a Tunisian immigrant in the Notre Dame basilica in Nice.
There have also been frequent knife attacks on the forces of law and order, leading to the deaths of serving police.
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