French Soldier Stabbed In Neck In Paris

French Soldier Stabbed In Neck In Paris

Police in France have said the stabbing of a uniformed soldier in Paris may have been inspired by the murder of British soldier Drummer Lee Rigby in London.

The 23-year-old French soldier, Cedric Cordier, was in a busy underground train station in the west of the city when he was stabbed in the throat by a man believed to be of North African origin at around 6pm on Saturday.

French President Francois Hollande said the attack could not "at this stage" be linked to the murder of Drummer Rigby last Wednesday.

He added: "We still do not know the exact circumstances of the attack or the identity of the attacker, but we are looking at all options."

Christophe Crepin, spokesman for the police union UNSA, said: "You don't have to be a great observer to be able to see the similarity.

"We are in a place where a soldier and an individual comes to stab ... you don't have to be a great observer to see that people are taking inspiration from acts committed abroad, to reproduce them here."

The soldier was with two colleagues patrolling the business area of La Defense as part of France's Vigipirate anti-terrorist surveillance strategy when he was approached from behind and attacked with a sharp metal object.

After the attack, the assailant reportedly "melted into a crowd" and fled the scene.

CCTV footage of the attacker showed him as being tall and bearded, aged about 35, possibly of North African origin and wearing a white Arab-style tunic, police said.

Mr Crepin said: "We know that he is tall, athletic, we think he was wearing a white tunic and sneakers. Things are evolving ... everything has been recorded on video and we will find him."

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who has visited the wounded soldier in hospital, told reporters: "They tried to kill the soldier because he was a soldier."

Mr Le Drian, who said the man was in a stable condition, vowed to continue France's "implacable" fight against terrorism.

The stabbing came three days after Drummer Rigby was hacked to death on a street in Woolwich in broad daylight in a suspected terrorist attack that has raised fears of potential copycat strikes.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls told France 2 television: "There are elements - the sudden violence of the attack - that could lead one to believe there might be a comparison with what happened in London. But at this point, honestly, let us be prudent."

French security forces have been on heightened alert since their country launched a military intervention in the African nation of Mali in January to regain territory seized by Islamic radicals.

Earlier this month, Mr Hollande said France was taking seriously a call by al Qaeda's North African wing for Muslims worldwide to launch attacks against the country's interests over its military operation in Mali.

Last year, three French paratroopers were killed by a man police described as a French-born Islamic extremist who then went on to strike a Jewish school in the south of France, killing four more people.

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