Knife-wielding man attacks soldier in Paris subway, terrorism probe opened

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France opened a counter-terrorism inquiry after a man wielding a knife attacked a soldier in a Paris subway station on September 15, the latest incident targeting troops protecting the capital’s transport hubs and tourist sites.

Paris and other European capitals are on high alert after a wave of attacks in past years by Islamist militants, many of them inspired by Islamic State.

The Paris incident occurred hours before several people were hurt at a London underground station.

The assailant in Paris was wrestled to the ground and arrested. The soldier, part of Operation Sentinel, a force deployed in the wake of lethal Islamist attacks on France, escaped unhurt.

Police said the attack happened just before 6.30 a.m. (10.30 a.m. IST) as the morning rush hour got under way at the Chatelet subway station, where tens of thousands of commuters converge from Paris’s sprawling suburbs every day.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said the investigation was being handled by counter-terrorism specialists.

A source close to the investigation said the assailant was Moroccan-born and about 40-years-old, with no known criminal background. Police raids at an address linked to the suspect were ongoing, the source added.

There have been more than half a dozen attacks against troops belonging to Operation Sentinel. In early August 2017, a man rammed his car into a group of soldiers on patrol in the wealthy Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. France announced on September 14 that the 7,000-strong force was being adapted to make it more mobile and its movements less predictable.