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Paris attack

Paris knife attack suspect charged with attempted terrorist killings

Anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard speaks during a press conference he gave on September 29, 2020 in Paris about the knife attack four days earlier in front of the former headquarters of Charlie Hebdo
Anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard speaks during a press conference he gave on September 29, 2020 in Paris about the knife attack four days earlier in front of the former headquarters of Charlie Hebdo © AFP

A man who wounded two people in a meat cleaver attack at the former headquarters of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris last week has been charged with "attempted murder with relation to a terrorist enterprise", according to French prosecutors.

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A judge also placed the man -- who has identified himself as 25-year-old Pakistani-born Zaheer Hassan Mehmood -- under judicial investigation for criminal association with terrorists, the prosecuting authority PNAT said, adding that a request had been made for him to be remanded in custody.

The assailant in what the French government has called an act of "Islamist terrorism" had identified himself as Hassan A., born in the Pakistani town of Mandi Bahauddin.

Earlier, the suspect admitted he lied to police when he said he was 18 and had entered the country as a minor, the lead prosecutor in the case said.

He entered France in 2018 under the false identity that gave him access to social security aid for minors, national anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard told a news conference on Tuesday evening.

The street where Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists were gunned down at their offices in 2015 was the scene of a new knife attack on 25 September 2020
The street where Charlie Hebdo journalists and cartoonists were gunned down at their offices in 2015 was the scene of a new knife attack on 25 September 2020 AFP/File

After the attack last Friday, investigators became suspicious about his claims when they found a photo of an identity document on his phone that appeared to suggest he was actually called Zaheer Hassan Mehmood, aged 25.

Not known to intelligence services

"He eventually admitted that this was his true identity and that he was 25 years old," Ricard said.

It was under that identity that he appeared in a video filmed before the attack, in which he said he was avenging the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed by the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The magazine was the scene of a massacre by Islamist gunmen in January 2015, and the trial of 14 alleged accomplices in that attack is currently under way in Paris.

Last Friday, the attacker seriously wounded two employees of a TV production agency whose offices are on the same block that used to house Charlie Hebdo. They are now in stable condition, officials said.

Mehmood told investigators he thought he was targeting employees of Charlie Hebdo, but did not realise they had since moved to a new location that is kept secret because of security risks.

Ricard said the attacker had never attracted the attention of any government intelligence agency before Friday's assault.

(with AFP)

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