In a gruesome incident, a high school teacher, who allegedly displayed caricatures of Prophet Mohammed to his students during a class, was decapitated by an attacker Friday afternoon. The French Police shot the suspect in a nearby town, killing him.
The attack occurred near a school in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Saint-Honorine northwest of Paris.
The victim is said to be a history teacher who recently discussed caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class.
Meanwhile, prosecutors said they were treating the incident as “a murder linked to a terrorist organisation” and related to a “criminal association with terrorists.”
French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an “Islamist terrorist attack” and urged the nation to stand united against extremism.
Hours later, four people, one a minor, were detained. Police typically fan out to find family and friends of potential suspects in terror cases.
Macron visited the school where the teacher worked in the town of Conflans-Saint-Honorine and met with staff after the slaying.
“One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught … the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe,” Macron said.
He said the attack shouldn’t divide France because that’s what the extremists want. “We must stand all together as citizens,” he said.
A police official said the suspect, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun — which fires plastic pellets — was shot dead about 600 meters (yards) from where the male teacher was killed after he failed to respond to orders to put down his arms, and acted in a threatening manner.
The teacher had received threats after opening a discussion “for a debate” about the caricatures about 10 days ago, the police official told The Associated Press. The parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said, adding that the suspected killer did not have a child at the school.
An ID card was found at the scene but police were verifying the identity, the police official said. French media reported that the suspect was an 18-year-old Chechen, born in Moscow. That information could not be immediately confirmed.
(With AP inputs)