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Four killed in knife attack inside Paris police HQ

A police vehicle at the Paris police prefecture after a deadly stabbing attack, 3 October 2019.
A police vehicle at the Paris police prefecture after a deadly stabbing attack, 3 October 2019. Martin BUREAU / AFP

Three officers and an administrative worker have been killed in a knife attack at Paris' police headquarters. The assailant, an IT employee at the prefecture, was shot dead. The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into manslaughter but has not ruled out any motive.

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Police union official Loic Travers told reporters that the attack appears to have begun in an office and then continued elsewhere in the large police compound.

In addition to the four killed, one person was wounded and is currently undergoing surgery.

Travers said he could not remember an attack of this magnitude against officers.

He added that a motive for the attack remains unknown, but the 45 year old assailant, and IT assistant and employee for 20 years, was working in the intelligence unit and had not posed any known problems until Thursday.

"It's the worst scenario possible, an internal attack with colleagues working together," said Philippe Capon of the UNSA police union.

But Capon has cautioned against jumping to any conclusions adding "nothing can be ruled out, including a personal issue."

The assailant

French President Emmanuel Macron joined Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and interior minister Christophe Castaner at the scene.

"He had never presented any behavioural issues, he had never presented the slightest cause for alarm before going on his deadly rampage today," said Castaner.

Christophe Carepin, a police official and member of the collective 'Police up in Anger' told French radio that the assailant had experienced issues with his supervisor.

"I know there were tensions between him and his direct supervisor...I do not think this is a terrorist act," explained Carepin.

But Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz confirmed that police were searching the attacker's home and that anti-terrorist investigators were evaluating what had happened in case there were any terrorist links.

Around the scene

The attack took place at between 12:30 and 1:00 pm (1030 - 1100 GMT) Thursday in the heart of the Paris, near Notre-Dame Cathedral.

The area around the police headquarters and also a busy tourist destination was sealed off.

The nearest metro station Cité was shut for security reasons, said the transport authority, along with the bridge between Notre Dame and the police headquarters building.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo tweeted that "Paris weeps for its own this afternoon after this terrifying attack in the police headquarters."

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