French police are investigating another attack near the former offices of weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, the location of a terrorist attack in 2015 that killed ten journalists and injured a security guard and a police officer.
Two people were seriously wounded in Friday’s stabbing near the former offices of the paper, which is a satirical publication which routinely pokes fun at political and religious figures in each issue.
The police have not issued a statement categorizing the attack definitively as terrorism-related at press time. Two individuals have been arrested in connection with the incident. French Prime Minister Jean Castex stated to reporters near the scene that the lives of the victims are not in danger any longer, “Thank God.”
One witness reportedly described the weapon as a “hatchet.”
The Friday attack was immediately linked to the January 7, 2015 crime not only because of where it took place but also because it occurs just as fourteen defendants are standing trial, accused of aiding and abetting Chérif and Said Kouachi, the perpetrators of the January 7, 2015 attack.
The Kouachi brothers — armed with assault rifles, submachine guns, grenades and pistols — smashed their way into the former headquarters of the weekly, firing at journalists as they were sitting at their desks.
It was reported at the time of the 2015 attack that the perpetrators had shouted after laying waste to the newspaper offices that they had “avenged the Prophet.”
A Yemen-based affiliate of Al-Qaida later claimed responsibility for the killings.
No link has yet been found definitively between the two attacks, but Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz said that the location of today’s incident and the place of the attack are the reason it is being investigated in that way.
“First of all, there’s the location of the attack right here in front of Charlie Hebdo’s former offices,” Heitz said. “And secondly, it happened at the exact time when the trial of those who may have helped the 2015 attackers is underway.”
The attack was visible from offices which are now home to a news agency. Paul Morreira, in an interview with French television, described the incident as “chilling.”
“I saw someone in the street with a kind of hatchet, and he attacked two people who were standing in front of the building,” he related. “He attacked them with this hatchet and he ran off. We were evacuated by force from the office.”
In a move which was seen at the time as typical for the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo reprinted the cartoons of the prophet Muhammed which had angered the 2015 attackers as soon as the new trial began. The paper admitted that it had indeed received new threats since the legal proceedings began earlier in September, but staunchly declared in an editorial that it would “never lie down.”
The magazine, which regularly lambastes the Catholic Church, operates under a fatwa that was imposed by Muslim extremists at the time the cartoons were first published.
NPR reported that the magazine’s human resources manager had to be “exfiltrated” from her apartment by the police last week after threats to her life were judged to be credible.
Alors que cette attaque a été perpétrée dans un lieu symbolique, et au moment même où se déroule le procès des attentats de janvier 2015, je veux rappeler notre attachement indéfectible à la liberté de la presse, et notre absolue détermination à lutter contre le terrorisme. https://t.co/AwF3DVc2OB
— Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) September 25, 2020