French terrorism authorities are investigating a double-stabbing outside the former Paris offices of a satirical newspaper where a dozen people were killed in 2015, and two suspects have been arrested in Friday's violence, authorities said.
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France's counterterrorism prosecutor said authorities suspect a terrorist motive because of the place and timing of the stabbings: in front of the building where Charlie Hebdo was based until the Islamic extremist attack on its cartoonists and at a time when suspects in the 2015 attack are on trial across town.
Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said that the chief suspect in Friday's stabbings was arrested, along with another person. Ricard said the assailant did not know the people who were stabbed, two workers in a documentary production company who had stepped outside for a smoke break.
The suspects' identities have not been released, and it is unclear exactly what prompted the attack. An investigation was opened into “attempted murder in relation with a terrorist enterprise,” according to an official at the terrorism prosecutor’s office.
Police cordoned off the area, including the former Charlie Hebdo offices, after a suspect package was noticed nearby, but the package was found to be harmless and no explosives were found, according a police official.
An investigation was opened into “attempted murder in relation with a terrorist enterprise,” according to an official at the prosecutor’s office. Authorities did not release the identity of the suspect arrested in the area of the Bastille Plaza.
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“I saw a guy that was in his 30s or 40s with an axe in his hand who was walking behind a victim covered in blood ... I cant tell you how many victims there was, I just saw one,” witness Kader Alfa told The Associated Press at the scene.
AP reporters saw officers flooding into the neighborhood, near the Richard Lenoir subway station.
The two people confirmed injured worked for documentary film company Premieres Lignes, according to founder Paul Moreira. He told BFM television that the attacker fled into the subway, and the company's staff members were evacuated.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex, who cut short a visit to a suburb north of Paris to head to the Interior Ministry to follow developments, said the lives of the two wounded workers are not in danger. He offered the government’s solidarity with their families and colleagues.
Moreira said a man in the street “attacked two people who were in front of the building, didn’t enter the building, and who attacked them with an axe and who left." He said the company had not received any threats.
Police initially announced that four people were wounded in the attack, but the official told The Associated Press that there are in fact only two confirmed wounded. Police could not explain the discrepancies.
The trial in the Charlie Hebdo attacks is currently underway across town. Murmurs broke at the terrorism trial of 14 people, including 3 fugitives, accused of helping the attackers in the January 2015 killings, as the news filtered through. The widows of the Charlie Hebdo attackers are scheduled to testify Friday afternoon.