IS claims Paris attack, family questioned

Blood on the street: the man who stabbed people in central Paris has been named as Khazmat Azimov.Police have scoured the background of a Chechnya-born Frenchman who killed a man in a knife attack in Paris, questioning the parents and a friend of the 21-year old, who had been flagged previously as a potential security risk.

The assailant had shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) as he began his stabbing rampage late on Saturday. He fatally knifed a 29-year-old man and wounded four others, among them a Chinese and a Luxembourg citizen, before police shot him dead.

“It was scary,” said Emma Klibbe, a 32-year old n who was waiting to get into a nearby restaurant and saw a man walk by who was injured in the attack.

“We heard someone shout and then a woman screamed ‘run inside!’ We ran inside and hid under the table,” said Klibbe, who teaches English in Paris.

A judicial source named the attacker as Khamzat A, without giving his full name, which BFM TV and other French media said was Azimov.

The attack took place in the bustling Opera district, known for its many restaurants, cafes and the Palais Garnier opera.

It was the latest in a succession of attacks in France since January 2015 in which more than 240 people have died.

The attacker had since 2016 been on a counter-terrorism watchlist of suspected radicals who may be a threat to national security, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack, but provided no proof. Griveaux said the claim had not yet been fully authenticated.

In a video which the SITE intelligence monitoring group said had been posted by IS’s Amaq news agency, a young man described as the attacker pledges allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Speaking in French, his face largely obscured by a black hood and scarf, he said “infidels” fighting IS were to blame. “You started it by killing Muslims,” he said.

It was not immediately possible to confirm the identity of the man in the video.

The assailant became French when his mother obtained citizenship in 2010, Griveaux said in a joint interview with broadcasters LCI and RTL and newspaper Le Figaro.

Judicial sources said the assailant’s parents as well as a friend of his were being held for questioning. The friend, arrested in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, was born in 1997, a source said.

BFM TV said the attacker had long lived in Strasbourg before moving to Paris last year.

Police union representative Rocco Contento told Reuters the attacker had rushed at police on Saturday evening, shouting “I will kill you, I will kill you!” after stabbing bystanders.

He was then shot by the officers.

The four people wounded were out of danger, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters.

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