French soldier stabbed in broad daylight in Paris

French police at the scene of Saturday's attack in Paris's La Défense district
French police at the scene of Saturday's attack in Paris's La Défense district AFP/François Guillot

France's anti-terrorist prosecutors have opened an inquiry into Saturday's stabbing of a soldier on anti-terror patrol in Paris’s La Défense business district. President François Hollande said the attack could not "at this stage" be linked to this week’s murder of a British soldier in London.


The attacker struck 23-year-old Cédric Cordier from behind with a sharp object – a box-cutter, according to some reports – and then melted into the crowd of shoppers who pack the area at weekends without saying a word.

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The assault was captured by surveillance cameras and the attacker is described by police as around 1.9 metres tall, bearded and wearing a jersey and black trousers.

Cordier was in uniform and armed.

He was patrolling as part of France's Vigipirate anti-terror surveillance scheme that deploys troops at tourist, business and transport sites in Paris.

He was with two colleagues on the patrol in a busy underground shopping mall and transport hub.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves le Drian visited in hospital, where he is reported to be in a stable conditon.

"We still do not know the exact circumstances of the attack or the identity of the
attacker but we are looking at all options," said Hollande, who is at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

No link can be made to the London attack “at this stage”, he added.

"There were elements, such as the sudden violence of the attack, that could lead one to think there is a form of comparison with what happened in London," Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Saturday, while insisting that investigators should be cautious.

The attacker had clearly intended to kill the soldier, the minister declared.

In London three more men were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder British soldier Lee Rigby, who was hacked to death while off-duty in the street in broad daylight.

The motive for the Paris attack is still unknown.

Al Qeda's north African wing has threatened to attack French interests in response to its intervention in Mali.

A year ago Islamist Mohamed Merah killed three soldiers and three Jewish children and a teacher in south-west France.


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