PARIS - France has opened a terrorism investigation following a knife attack Friday that seriously wounded two people near the old Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper. Two suspects have been detained.
The parallels between the January 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo and this latest one are chilling. Once again journalists were targeted — two members of French production agency Premieres Lignes, who were stabbed as they took a cigarette break outside.
The group worked in the same building as Charlie Hebdo’s old headquarters before the 2015 incident. And the attack happened as a trial is underway for suspected accomplices in the Charlie Hebdo killings.
Speaking to journalists at the scene, Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz said police have arrested two people, including the alleged leader of these latest strikes.
And because of all of the parallels with the Charlie Hebdo attacks five years ago, he said, Paris' anti-terrorist prosecutors are investigating it.
Islamist assailants killed 12 people during the January 2015 strikes, including prominent Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex reaffirmed France’s support for press freedom and its determination to fight terrorism using all possible means.
Charlie Hebdo has recently received new death threats — with French media signing an open letter backing the newspaper and free expression. Friday morning, a suspicious package reportedly arrived at the weekly newspaper’s old offices.
Police briefly cordoned off the site of the attack, while a small crowd looked on.
A 72-year-old Parisian named Gerard, who declined to give his last name, said he believed France was being targeted because of its Barkhane anti-terrorist force in Africa’s Sahel region.
Another local resident, Lili, who recently moved here from China, was unable to get home because of police blockades.
“It’s so difficult to live here, because we have COVID-19 and economic downturn, and now this,” she said.
Delivery man Luis Cuevas said people no longer feel at ease here. You have to check for suspicious bags on public transport, be careful on the street — and now COVID-19. We’re living in unhealthy times, he said.
The attack comes as the government is readying new legislation to fight so-called “separatism” — what it considers enemies of France and its way of life, including radical Islam.