French police launched a manhunt for the suspect in a stabbing of a policewoman in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre near the city of Nantes
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La Chapelle-sur-Erdre (France) (AFP)
French police on Friday detained a man suspected of badly wounding a policewoman in a stabbing in the west of France, with the security forces on edge after a spate of attacks on their ranks in the last months.
The suspect, still armed, had been on the run after the attack in La Chapelle-sur-Erdre near the city of Nantes, and 80 officers were dispatched to pursue him, a police source said.
The BFMTV station said that the man took the policewoman’s service weapon before fleeing. A source close to the investigation said that her injuries were life-threatening.
Three French gendarmes were wounded — in the hand and in the arm — in the operation that resulted in the arrest of the suspect, authorities said.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin was on his way to the scene, his ministry said. He said on Twitter that the individual arrested was suspected of carrying out the attack.
Pupils in the area’s primary and middle schools were kept indoors, a city official told AFP.
La Chapelle-sur-Erdre is a small town of 20,000 inhabitants just north of Nantes near the French Atlantic coast.
The attack came on the same day that Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti called on French judges to show “firmness” when dealing with people found guilty of attacks on police forces.
All such cases of violence should go before a criminal court, he said in a memo to investigating magistrates seen by AFP.
– Spate of attacks –
French police officers have demanded better protection and harsher punishment for attacks against them after a spate of attacks in the last months which shocked the country.
Earlier this month, officer Eric Masson was shot dead while investigating activity at a known drug-dealing site in the southern city of Avignon.
Masson’s death came after the April 23 killing of Stephanie Monferme, a police employee who was stabbed to death in the town of Rambouillet outside Paris in the latest jihadist attack in France.
There was no immediate indication that the French authorities intended to open a terror probe into Friday’s attack. Nantes prosecutors could not immediately comment.
Several attacks over the last year have reignited concerns about the spread of radical Islam inside France as well as immigration.
In September, a Pakistani man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside the former offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which had printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
On October 16, a young Chechen refugee beheaded teacher Samuel Paty who had showed some of the caricatures to his pupils.
And on October 29, three people were killed when a recently arrived Tunisian went on a stabbing spree in a church in the Mediterranean city of Nice.
In the most severe recent attack against French police, three officers and one police employee were stabbed to death in October 2019 by a IT specialist colleague who was himself then shot dead.
He was later found to have shown an interest in radical Islam.
These attacks came after the massacres carried out by Islamist extremists from 2015 that began with the massacre of staff in the offices of Charlie Hebdo in January that year.
In France’s deadliest peacetime atrocity, 130 people were killed and 350 were wounded when Islamist suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Stade de France stadium, bars and restaurants in central Paris and the Bataclan concert hall in November 2015.
And in 2016 a man rammed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, killing 86 people.
Just a few weeks before, two police officers were stabbed to death at their home outside Paris by a man claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group.
© 2021 AFP