Sunday night there was a knife attack in Paris which left seven people injured, four of them seriously. The attacker, who had a knife and a metal bar, was interrupted by a group of people playing a French lawn-bowling game called pétanque which uses hollow metal balls. At least one of the men saw the attacker and hit him in the head with a metal ball, but the attacked ducked into an alley and attacked two British tourists. Despite the seemingly random attack, the BBC reports that authorities in Paris say they are not treating this as terrorism:
The man, said to be Afghan, was soon arrested. The incident is currently not being treated as a terrorist attack…
Eyewitness Youssef Najah, 28, said he was walking beside the canal when he saw a man running and holding a knife about 25-30cm (10-11 inches) long.
“There were around 20 people chasing him. They started throwing pétanque balls at him,” he said.
“Around four or five balls hit him in the head, but they weren’t able to stop him,” he added…
A French police source said: “At this stage, there is nothing to indicate that it could be a terrorist attack.”
CNN is also reporting that a French Interior Ministry spokesman told them, “This is not being treated as a terrorist attack.” It’s not clear whether that’s because the police have a lead on another possible motive (like mental illness) or if this is simply a lack of evidence at this early stage. But CNN does point out that there have been several previous knife attacks this year, including two claimed by ISIS:
On August 23, a man stabbed his mother and sister to death and seriously injured another person in a town near Paris before police shot him and killed him.
ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack, but French authorities said the 36-year-old had mental health problems and had been on their terror watch list since 2016.
Ten days earlier an Afghan asylum-seeker was arrested in the southwestern French town of Perigueux after wounding four people in a drunken rampage, AFP reported.
On June 17, two people were hurt in another southern town when a woman shouting “Allahu akbar” attacked them with a knife in a supermarket before being overpowered.
In May of this year, a man was shot dead after launching a knife-attack while shouting “Allahu akbar.” He was shot by police but ISIS later claimed it had inspired the attack. From the Independent:
Police have shot a man who launched a knife attack in Paris dead after he killed a 29-year-old man and injured four others.
Isis claimed responsibility for the atrocity in a statement that described the culprit as one of its “soldiers”.
Official sources said the attacker was a French citizen born in the Chechnya region of Russia in 1997…
“First we thought it was two guys fighting,” said Fiona, who was having dinner in Kintaro restaurant and did not want her second name published…
Fiona said the same man came back with the knife minutes later and was “screaming Allahu akbar”.
All of that to say, while this might not be terrorism, there is certainly a recent pattern of knife attacks in the area which makes that a plausible explanation. However, so far no one has claimed the attacker was yelling anything and ISIS has apparently not claimed any sort of credit here. So maybe this is something else entirely. I’ll update this post if more information on the attack becomes available today.