French prosecutors have opened a terrorist investigation into the fatal stabbing of a French police officer on Friday at his police station near the historic Rambouillet castle outside Paris. Other officers shot and killed the suspected assailant at the scene.
The identity and motive of the attacker were not immediately clear, a spokesman for the national police told The Associated Press. The police officer was a 49-year-old administrative employee at the station, the spokesman said. The victim was the mother of two children aged 13 and 18, according to AFP reports.
The National Counter-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office said it had taken over the case and opened an investigation into the murder of a person of public authority in connection with a terrorist group. The prosecutor’s office officials did not provide further details.
“We are in a state of astonishment,” Karl Olive, vice president of the regional council, told BFM television.
The attack took place southwest of Paris, right inside the police station, in a quiet residential area of the city of Rambouillet, about 700 meters from a former royal estate which is sometimes used for peace negotiations international. The police cordon surrounded the area after the stabbing.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and other senior officials visited the scene of the attack to show their support for the police.
“France lost one of its daily heroines in a barbaric gesture of endless cowardice,” Castex said, according to Reuters.
Valerie Pecresse, president of the Paris region, told reporters that “the police are the symbol of the republic. It’s France.”
“The face of France” has been targeted, Pecresse said.
France has seen deadly attacks on police in the past, including some by Islamic extremists.
The attack comes as the government of President Emmanuel Macron is tightening its security policies, amid voter concerns about crime and police complaints that are in growing danger. Macron may face a challenge from far-right French leader Marine Le Pen if he seeks a second term in next year’s French presidential election.