Seven Britons were in custody in Paris today in connection with the attempted ‘hit and run’ murder of a police officer outside the Israeli Embassy in France.
The four men and three women have not been named but are said to be Londoners of Pakistani origin, who were travelling in a Mercedes and a BMW with false number plates.
Their vehicles were filmed threatening the policeman outside the hugely secure Embassy close to the Champs Elysée on Monday night.
‘They suddenly deviated from their direction of travel and rushed towards the officer, who narrowly escaped’ said an investigating source.
It comes after two Muslim women were stabbed underneath the Eiffel Tower on Sunday and the beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist fanatic on Friday.
The secured entrance to the Israeli Embassy in Paris, just off the Champs-Elysee (Google streetview image)
The attack at the Israeli embassy comes after two Muslim women were stabbed underneath the Eiffel Tower on Sunday, and the beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty by an Islamist fanatic on Friday
Video surveillance cameras picked up the faces of three suspects in the Mercedes and three others in the BMW, and all were considered to be in a group, along with a seventh suspect who was not in the cars.
The two vehicles managed to escape after the 7pm attack, are were later seen ‘lurking’ close to the Elysée Palace, the official homes of the President of France, said a the source.
A city-wide manhunt was launched, and all the suspects were by Tuesday brought into custody at a secure police station in Paris.
Prosecutors on Wednesday confirmed that the men and women – who include two minors in their late teens – are being investigated for ‘the attempted murder of a person in public authority’.
The crime can be punished by a maximum sentence of life in prison in France.
An early theory advanced by investigators is that the suspects were planning a ‘hit and run’ on the police.
It follows rising tensions caused by the beheading of Mr Paty in the Paris suburbs last Friday by 18-year-old Chechen Abdullakh Anzarov.
President Macron was today preparing to lead a national ceremony for the 47-year-old teacher who will be awarded the country’s highest order of merit, the Legion d’Honneur.
Mr Paty was decapitated in broad daylight outside the Bois-d’Aulne school in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris, by Anzarov who had paid a 14-year-old schoolboy €300 (£270) to identify the history and geography tutor.
Anzorov had been in contact with the father of a girl in Mr Paty’s class who instigated a campaign against him over the showing of Charlie Hebdo cartoons during a civics lesson.
The father, Brahim Chnina, is in custody after France’s interior minister accused him of launching a ‘fatwa’ against Mr Paty.
Teacher Samuel Paty (left) was beheaded in the Paris suburbs on Friday after he shared cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in class, leading Brahim Chinina (right), the father of a girl in his class, to issue what France’s interior minister called a ‘fatwa’ against him
Flowers are laid outside the school in Conflans Saint-Honorine in the Parisian suburbs for Samuel Paty
The terrorist’s body lying in the middle of the road after he was killed by French police following his refusal to surrender
Mr Chnina had put his phone number on a Facebook post with a video calling for protests against Mr Paty, and later published details of the teacher and his school.
Mr Chnina, along with six others, including two teenagers who were allegedly paid by Anzorov for information, are due to appear in court today. Nine others were arrested as part of the investigation but have since been released.
An attempted murder enquiry has also been opened in Paris after two Muslim women were ‘stabbed repeatedly’ underneath the Eiffel Tower, prosecutors confirmed today.
French police have arrested two women following the suspected racist attacks on Sunday which were allegedly accompanied by the words ‘Dirty Arabs!’
One of the Muslim women said the attackers had pulled out a knife after refusing to put their dogs on a leash and slashed her on the skull, arm and ribs.
French police have arrested two female suspects following the suspected racist attacks, which were allegedly accompanied by the words ‘Dirty Arabs’
The victims of Sunday’s attacks have been identified as French women from an Algerian background named only as Kenza, 49, and Amel, who is a few years younger.
Those in custody are described as being white women of ‘European appearance’, who now face ‘attempted murder’ charges, said city prosecutors after the alleged row about dogs – which are seen as unclean in Islam.
‘We had gone out for a walk. At the level of the Eiffel Tower there is a small rather dark park, we took a little tour in it. As we walked, there were two dogs that come towards us,’ Kenza told Liberation newspaper.
‘The children got scared. My cousin, who was veiled, asked the two women if it was possible to keep their dogs with them because the children were afraid.’
After they refused, ‘one of the two took out a knife, she slashed me on the skull, on the back on the ribs and there was a third blow on the arm,’ said Kenza. ‘They then attacked my cousin.’
Mr Paty’s murder has led to a renewed crackdown on extremism in France where ministers plan to shut down two Islamic organisations and a Paris mosque.
One imam apologised yesterday after his mosque shared details of Mr Paty and his school on Facebook following a campaign by an outraged Muslim father.
‘Given what happened we regret having published it, said imam M’hammed Henniche, according to France Info.
Demonstrators gathered in several French cities to support freedom of speech after history teacher Samuel Paty was brutally murdered by an Islamic extremist for showing his class caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. Pictured: Several people held signs reading ‘Je suis Prof, Je suis Samuel’ (meaning ‘I am a teacher, I am Samuel) to echo the ‘I am Charlie’ rallying cry after the 2015 attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo
French MPs pay tribute in front of the National Assembly building in Paris today with a picture of Samuel Paty displayed on the steps
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen speaks to the media as she attends a vigil for Paty in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on Monday evening
‘We are currently seeing how in the future to take a step back before getting carried away on things like that.’
While ISIS has not claimed responsibility for Mr Paty’s killing, the magazine has previously urged people to emulate the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris which was also seen as revenge for blasphemy against Mohammed.
The Charlie Hebdo attackers were ‘leaving a clear path for others to follow’ because Western governments would not ‘carry out the punishment for the blasphemy prescribed by Islam’, the ISIS magazine said.
The 2015 killings were the first in a series of terror attacks which have rocked France in recent years, including Mr Paty’s beheading last Friday.
According to the SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based monitor, supporters of al-Qaeda have also been ‘celebrating’ the attack and sharing graphic images online.