French soldier opens fire on knife-wielding attacker outside Louvre

A French soldier shot and seriously injured a man in a shopping area beneath the Louvre Museum on Friday after he launched an attack while shouting 'Allahu akbar', officials have said.

The Louvre Museum in Paris, where a soldier has opened fire in a security incident. John Walton/PA Wire

Police union official Yves Lefebvre said the man was carrying two backpacks, and had two machetes, and reacted when soldiers told him he could not enter with his bags.

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Mr Lefebvre said: “That’s when he got the knife out and that’s when he tried to stab the soldier.”

French police officers patrol near the Louvre museum Picture: Getty Images

A soldier opened fire and the man was struck five times, once in the stomach, Paris police chief Michel Cadot said.

The backpacks did not contain any explosives, he added. One of the soldiers was slightly wounded on the scalp.

A spokesman for the military force that patrols key sites in Paris says the four-man patrol tried to fight off the assailant before opening fire.

Spokesman Benoit Brulon says the soldier who was slightly injured by the attacker was not the soldier who opened fire.

French police officers patrol near the Louvre museum Picture: Getty Images

The French interior ministry said anti-terrorism prosecutors are investigating the attack but that there were still no details about the identity of the attacker. “Allahu akbar” is the Arabic phrase for “God is great”.

The museum in the centre of Paris is one of the French capital’s biggest tourist attractions.

Staff members have returned to the shopping area after police had sealed off entrances around where the attack took place.

Roadblocks were also cleared after the area had been closed to traffic for a while.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said that a second person also was arrested but it is unclear whether they were linked to the attack.

Mr Brandet said about 1,000 people were inside the actual museum and were held inside in safe areas.

Conor Bakhuizen, 18, is in Paris on a school trip and, in a Twitter exchange with the Associated Press, he said he “was in the foyer and suddenly rushed into another room in the museum”.

Olivier Majewski was just leaving his scooter in the parking area beneath the Louvre when he saw about 30 or 40 people running and screaming “there’s been a terror attack”.

The 53-year-old said he hid for about 15 minutes before making his way upstairs. He said people were clearly scared.

The attack took place only hours before leaders of Paris’s bid for the 2024 Olympics unveil their final candidate files.

French officials have repeatedly dismissed security concerns over the bid despite a wave of attacks that has left more than 200 people dead in the country over the past two years.

The attack will raise more questions before Friday’s ceremony near the Eiffel Tower.

Speaking outside the Louvre, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who will attend the ceremony alongside athletes and other bid leaders, said all big cities in the world are under threat.

She said that “there is not a single one escaping that menace”.

Paris, which has not hosted the Olympics since 1924, is competing against Budapest and Los Angeles.

The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city in September.