A teacher was killed in a gruesome attack near Paris on Friday, officials said, adding that police later killed the attacker and a terrorist investigation is underway.
A middle school history teacher was killed in the streets of Conflans Sainte-Honorine, a suburb northwest of Paris.
The French newspaper Le Parisien identified the victim as “Samuel P.” and reported that the teacher opened a discussion with his students about caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. He had received threats up to ten days before the attack and a parent lodged a complaint.
Police responded to reports of a “suspicious man” loitering near the school. Then officers a man with a knife in the area shortly after the attack.
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Initial reports indicated that the teacher had been beheaded, but subsequent reports said the attacker instead slit the teacher̵
A police source said witnesses heard the attacker shout “Allah Akbar” or “God is great” but police have not confirmed this account according to reports. Prosecutors said they treated the attack as “a murder linked to a terrorist organization.”
Police shot and killed the suspect after he did not respond to requests to drop his weapon, Reuters reported. The French television station BFMTV reported that the suspected attacker was 18 and born in Moscow.
The attack came when French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for a new law against what he calls domestic “separatism”, particularly by Islamic radicals accused of indoctrinating vulnerable people through home schools, extremist preaching and other activities.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who traveled to Morocco, is returning to France as a matter of urgency.
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The attack is another in a series in Paris related to questions about the Islamic faith.
Late last month, a man who emigrated to France from Pakistan used a meat clover to attack and wounded two people outside the offices of the former satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Charlie Hebdo himself had been the site of an attack in January 2015, resulting in a dozen dead and nearly as many wounded, after two armed men entered the offices after it published a cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
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In Islam, the portrayal of the Prophet is a controversial subject, and many believe it is forbidden.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
This is a development story; came back for updates.