August 6, 2017 9:15 am
Updated: August 6, 2017 11:34 am

French man threatens Eiffel Tower security with knife, counter-terrorism probe launched

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French prosecutors have opened a counter-terrorism investigation after an incident late on Saturday at Paris’ Eiffel Tower in which a man with a blade tried to force entry to the tourist site, a judicial source said.

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The incident occurred around 21:30 GMT (5:30 p.m. EST) on Saturday. It was initially treated as a criminal matter, but was later designated a counter-terrorism case because of the suspect’s statements to police and his apparent radicalization, the source said.

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The young French man, who recently was discharged from a psychiatric hospital, was initially under investigation for glorifying terrorism after he brandished a knife and tried to breach security at the Eiffel Tower, authorities said Sunday.

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No one was hurt in the incident late Saturday, though the tower was briefly evacuated, according to a statement Sunday from the company that manages the monument. The tower reopened as usual Sunday morning.

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A judicial official said the man tried to force his way into the secure zone, held out a knife and said “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.” He was quickly surrounded by security forces and surrendered, the official said. A Paris police official said no shots were fired. Both officials weren’t authorized to be publicly named.

The suspect was born in Mauritania in 1998, but has French citizenship, the official said. His name wasn’t released.

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Monuments in the French capital are occasionally evacuated for security reasons, as the country remains on alert after deadly attacks since 2015.

— With files from Reuters.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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