Louvre: 'Terrorist' armed with machete shot at Paris museum

Wil Longbottom, News Reporter

A suspected terrorist who tried to enter the  Louvre museum in Paris carrying a machete and backpacks was Egyptian, inital indications suggest. 

The man, who was shot by a soldier at the entrance after shouting "Allahu Akbar", had arrived in France at the end of January, sources told Reuters.

Police chief Michel Cadot said the attacker was shot after "launching" himself at the soldier in the Carrousel du Louvre area of the attraction.

The soldier - part of a four-man patrol - fired five times, hitting the man in the legs and stomach and seriously injuring him.

The assailant became violent when he was told he could not enter with his bags. Two machetes were found at the scene.

Mr Cadot said: "We are dealing with an attack from an individual who was clearly aggressive and represented a direct threat, and whose comments lead us to believe that he wished to carry out a terrorist incident."

President Hollande praised the soldiers for preventing a terror attack, and Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said: "It appears to be an attempted attack of a terrorist nature."

A spokesman for the French interior ministry said the identity of the attacker was unknown.

Witnesses reported seeing a crowd of people running away from the scene and screaming.

As many as 250 people were locked inside the museum as the incident was dealt with, before groups were later allowed to leave when their identities had been checked.

One Twitter user, called Maya, wrote: "We've all been locked inside ... there are hundreds of vans outside."

The Louvre remained closed on Friday but Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay said it will reopen on Saturday.

A second person was detained after they were spotted behaving suspiciously near the scene, the police chief said. They are not thought to be linked to the Louvre incident, which happened at around 10am local time.

The interior ministry said a large area around the museum, including the gardens, was sealed off.

The soldier who opened fire was part of Operation Sentinelle, the massive deployment of French military on the streets after the terror attacks in France in 2015 and 2016.

Another soldier is understood to have suffered a slight head injury in the attack, which took place in a shopping area that leads to the museum.

Europe 1 radio station reported that bomb disposal officers were at the scene, but the police chief said the bags did not contain explosives.

France has been on its highest state of alert following terror attacks in Paris and Nice in the last two years.

In January 2015, 17 people were killed when gunmen attacked the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris and shoppers at a Jewish supermarket.

In November 2015, gunmen and suicide bombers linked to Islamic State attacked bars, restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and the national stadium in the French capital, killing 130 people.

Last July, a Tunisian man drove a lorry through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 86 people.

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