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French Stabbings Suspect Convicted on Terror Charges in 2013


French police officers block the road leading to a crime scene the day after a knife-wielding attacker stabbed a senior police officer to death Monday evening outside his home in Magnanville, west of Paris, June 14, 2016.

The suspect in the fatal stabbing of a French police officer and his companion was one of eight men convicted in 2013 of recruiting for a group that intended to commit terrorist acts, a French official said Tuesday.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins spoke just hours after the area police commander and his companion were killed at the officer's home west of Paris. Authorities said the commander was killed outside the home, while the companion was later killed during a four-hour police standoff that ended when an elite police unit stormed the home and killed the 25-year-old attacker.

The couple's 3-year-old son was taken hostage with the companion, but an Interior Ministry spokesman told reporters that the boy had been rescued and was "safe and sound."

Islamic State extremists claimed responsibility for the attack.

Molins identified the assailant as Larossi Abballa and said he had pledged loyalty to the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Molins said Abballa had plans to go to Pakistan for terrorist training at the time of his arrest in 2011. At his 2013 sentencing, Abballa received a three-year prison term that included a six-month suspended sentence, which allowed his immediate release for jail time already served. Molins said Abballa remained under police surveillance until December 2015.

Molins also said Abballa had a list of other targets, including entertainers, journalists, police officers and public officials. The prosecutor said the suspect was responding to IS calls to "kill nonbelievers where they live,'' along with their families.

French President Francois Hollande described the latest killings as an "incontestably a terrorist act." He said France faced a threat on "a very large scale,'' coming at a time when the country is hosting the Euro 2016 football tournament, and just months after the IS-inspired massacre in Paris that left 130 people dead and hundreds of others wounded.