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France Mobilizes 7,000 Soldiers in Wake of Fatal School Attack by Alleged Islamic Extremist

by Chloe Baker
8 comments
France school stabbing

The office of the French President announced on Saturday the deployment of up to 7,000 troops to fortify security measures nationwide, following the fatal stabbing of a teacher and the injury of three others at a school by a former student believed to be radicalized by Islamic extremism.

The Gambetta-Carnot school in the northern city of Arras reopened its doors on Saturday morning, after a Friday attack that unsettled the nation, particularly against the backdrop of global unrest stemming from the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The counterterrorism division is actively probing the stabbing incident, and the accused, along with several other individuals, are currently detained. According to prosecutors, the suspect is of Chechen origin, a former student of the school, and had been recently under the scrutiny of intelligence agencies for signs of radicalization.

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has elevated the national threat level and has ordered the deployment of up to 7,000 soldiers by Monday evening to enhance security measures across France indefinitely. The activation of the “Attack Emergency” threat level empowers the government to provisionally utilize military forces for the protection of public spaces, among other precautions.

At the Gambetta-Carnot school on Saturday, a police presence was visible as both children and adults began to return. While formal classes were canceled, the school reopened its doors for individuals seeking emotional support or wishing to make a communal stand against extremism. A mother in attendance articulated that she and her 17-year-old daughter were there to defy the extremist ideology and to confront the apprehension of returning to the premises where a lockdown had been imposed after the stabbing incident.

While the assailant’s precise motivations are yet to be ascertained, reports indicate that he is not cooperating with the investigators. The incident has evoked memories of a similar tragedy, the murder of teacher Samuel Paty, which occurred almost three years ago. Paty was decapitated by a radicalized individual of Chechen descent, who was subsequently eliminated by law enforcement.

The suspect in the recent attack had been monitored since the summer for possible Islamic radicalization, according to French intelligence services who spoke with Big Big News. Although he was detained for questioning following recent phone call activities, no immediate signs of attack preparation were found, stated Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

The minister also noted that there might be a correlation between the ongoing Middle East conflict and the suspect’s decision to carry out the attack. Since the onset of hostilities between Hamas and Israel, France has intensified its security measures around hundreds of Jewish establishments and has detained 12 individuals near schools or places of worship, some of whom were armed and had apparent intentions to act.

The prosecution mentioned that the alleged perpetrator, a former student of the school, shouted “Allahu Akbar,” meaning “God is great” in Arabic, during the course of the attack. The suspect is likely to face charges related to terrorism, including murder and attempted murder.

Dominique Bernard, a French language instructor at the Gambetta-Carnot school, which accommodates students between the ages of 11 and 18, was identified as the deceased. Another faculty member and a security personnel are in critical condition due to injuries sustained in the attack, as per police reports. A maintenance worker was also reported injured.

In a statement, President Macron encouraged the French populace to maintain unity, emphasizing that “The decision has been taken not to succumb to terrorism. We cannot allow ourselves to be divided; schools and the dissemination of knowledge remain integral in this struggle against ignorance.”

Reporters Charlton, Nicolas Garriga in Arras, and John Leicester in Paris contributed to this coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about France school stabbing

What led to the deployment of 7,000 troops in France?

The French President’s office announced the mobilization of up to 7,000 soldiers to enhance security measures across the nation. This decision was made in response to a fatal stabbing incident at the Gambetta-Carnot school in the city of Arras, where a teacher was killed and three other individuals were wounded. The suspect is believed to be a former student radicalized by Islamic extremism.

Who is the suspect in the school stabbing?

The suspect is a former student of the Gambetta-Carnot school and is of Chechen origin. He had been recently under the surveillance of intelligence agencies for potential signs of Islamic radicalization.

What is the “Attack Emergency” threat level?

The “Attack Emergency” threat level is a heightened state of national alert that allows the French government to temporarily deploy military forces for the protection of public spaces and to implement other security measures.

Is there any connection between the school stabbing and global events?

While the precise motive of the attacker is still unclear, the Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, suggested that there might be a correlation between the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, specifically the Israel-Hamas war, and the suspect’s decision to commit the attack.

What measures has France taken near schools and places of worship?

Since the onset of hostilities between Hamas and Israel, France has intensified its security measures around hundreds of Jewish establishments and has detained 12 individuals near schools or places of worship, some of whom were armed and appeared to be preparing to act.

Who were the victims in the stabbing?

The deceased was identified as Dominique Bernard, a French language instructor at the school. Another teacher and a security guard are in critical condition due to injuries sustained during the stabbing. A maintenance worker was also reported injured.

How did the community react after the attack?

The school reopened its doors on the following Saturday for individuals seeking emotional support or wishing to make a communal stand against extremism. President Macron encouraged the populace to maintain unity and emphasized the importance of education in the fight against ignorance.

What charges are being considered against the suspect?

Prosecutors are contemplating charges related to terrorism, including murder and attempted murder, against the alleged assailant.

How has this incident impacted the broader discussion about extremism in France?

The attack has rekindled memories of a similar tragedy involving the murder of teacher Samuel Paty nearly three years ago. It has also intensified the national conversation on the challenges of combating extremism within the country.

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8 comments

Alan J October 14, 2023 - 2:12 pm

Israel-Hamas and now this? The world needs a break. Where are we heading?

Reply
Sarah L October 14, 2023 - 5:04 pm

This is awful, but I’m glad the school opened so quickly. Shows we can’t let fear rule us. My heart goes out to the victims families.

Reply
Nina S October 14, 2023 - 5:44 pm

Education is indeed the best weapon against ignorance. I agree with Macron there. But how do you educate against extremism? That’s the question.

Reply
Mike R October 15, 2023 - 12:24 am

7000 troops is a lot! Hope it helps keep people safe tho. These are crazy times were living in.

Reply
Emily G October 15, 2023 - 2:27 am

Macron’s call for unity is on point. This is a time where people need to stick together, not fall apart.

Reply
Linda M October 15, 2023 - 5:59 am

Sending prayers to the victims. Its a grim reminder of how we should never take security for granted.

Reply
John D October 15, 2023 - 7:51 am

Wow, can’t believe this is happening in France, again. It’s like deja vu with the Samuel Paty case. When will it stop?

Reply
Tom W October 15, 2023 - 8:55 am

Why was the suspect under surveillance but still able to do this? Seems like a failure of intelligence to me.

Reply

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