Policeman ‘saved by bullet-proof vest’ in attempted ‘terrorist’ attack in southern France

A French policeman was saved by his bullet-proof vest on Monday when a man claiming to act "in the name of the Prophet” tried to stab him in the southern city of Cannes.

The incident is being treated as a possible terrorist attack, said police.

The officer targeted was behind the wheel of a car in front of a police station at 6.30 am when the assailant opened the door and stabbed him with a knife in the chest, said French reports.

"The policeman who was stabbed has fortunately not been physically injured thanks to his bulletproof vest," tweeted interior minister Gerald Darmanin.

The attacker was "neutralised", he said, but added nothing more about the assailant or a possible motive.

"I am going to the scene immediately this morning and I offer my support to the national police and to the city of Cannes," he added.

French media citing police sources said the man, who had Algerian nationality and was born in 1984, had shouted “in the name of the Prophet”.

David Lisnard sur les lieux de l’attaque de policiers nationaux près du commissariat de Cannes. Assaillant neutralisé. Pas de victime. Soutien à nos forces de l’ordre. pic.twitter.com/NekibuW1t1

— Thierry MIGOULE (@TMigoule) November 8, 2021

The attack happened after the police officer wound down his window when the assailant "pretended he needed some information", according to Le Monde. 

When he tried to stab a second officer in the vehicle he was shot three times by a third occupant and severely injured, said reports. He is in a serious condition.

“There were no deaths and the circumstances of the attack are being elucidated,” said David Lisnard, mayor of Cannes, on Twitter. Local judicial police have launched a probe.

French police have been targeted in a series of attacks by Islamic extremists in recent years, leading to calls for better protection and harsher jail sentences.

In April, a police employee was stabbed to death in the secure entrance to a station in the Paris commuter town of Rambouillet, while an officer was seriously wounded in a knife attack near the western city of Nantes in May.

In October 2019, three officers and one police employee in Paris were stabbed to death in the headquarters of the Paris police by a radicalised IT employee.

The threat of attacks by Islamic extremists remains high in France, which has suffered a wave of violence over the last decade from radicals inspired by al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group.

The deadliest such attack was on November 13, 2015, when 130 were killed by terrorists armed with suicide vests and Kalashnikovs in and around Paris, notably at the Bataclan concert hall.

The Cannes assailant has been 'neutralised' said French interior minister Gérald Darmanin

Credit: REUTERS

The trial of the only survivor of the commando, Salah Abdeslam, along with 19 suspected accomplices, is currently underway in Paris.

The attack in Cannes comes as worries over violent crime and terrorism feature among voters’ main concerns, in the run-up to the 2022 French Presidential election.

Eric Ciotti, a candidate to run for the Right-wing Republicans party and MP for the Alpes-Maritimes, called the attack “terrorist”.

Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-Right National Rally, said: “I get the feeling this type of incident is becoming commonplace”.

The French should not have to get used to “regular attempted attacks in the country”, she said, adding that foreigners on terror watchlists should be systematically expelled.

Reports said the man was unknown to police and had an Italian residency permit.

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