A Frenchman once convicted of recruiting jihadi fighters stabbed a police commander to death outside his suburban Paris home, recording the attack and posting it on Facebook Live, French officials said today.
The commander’s partner and the attacker were also found dead inside the home after a three-hour stand-off with police. The couple’s three-year-old was in the house in Magnanville, about 35 miles west of Paris, but was unharmed. A police official said that at one point in the video the attacker puzzled over what to do with the child.
The Islamic State’s Amaq news agency cited an unnamed source as saying an IS fighter carried out the attack late on Monday. While the extremist group has not officially claimed responsibility, French president Francois Hollande said it was “incontestably a terrorist act” and that France faces a threat “of a very large scale”.
Two people close to the attacker, identified as 25-year-old Larossi Abballa, were detained, authorities said today. They gave no details about them.
France has been on particularly high alert as it hosts Europe’s top sporting event, the Euro 2016 football tournament, and is still under a state of emergency after the November IS attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.
Mr Hollande held an emergency security meeting on Tuesday. “France is not the only country concerned (by the terrorist threat), as we have seen, again, in the United States, in Orlando,” he said.
Abballa was from the nearby suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie and was sentenced in 2013 to three years in prison for recruiting fighters for jihad in Pakistan, according to two police officials.
Neighbourhood resident Henriette Yenge, who lives and works near the building, said she would say hello to Abballa when he went to the mosque around the corner.
“He was a neighbourhood kid,” she said. “I was surprised it was him. It’s sad to see things like that.”
Two other security officials said Abballa recorded a video during the knife attack. One official said the assailant posted the video on Facebook Live, the social media site’s live feed.
A Facebook profile bearing the name Larossi Abballa – which vanished from the internet earlier today – showed a photo of a smiling, bearded man. Two recent posts featured videos critical of Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The last publicly available post was a mock-up of the European Championship logo, highlighting what the poster said were masonic and occult symbols.
“Some will say we see evil everywhere!” Abballa said in a message posted about 18 hours before the attack.