Counterterrorism authorities are investigating what authorities called an Islamic extremist attack linked to Charlie Hebdo, which lost 12 employees in an al-Qaida attack in 2015. The weekly, which routinely mocks religious and other prominent figures, recently republished caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that outraged many Muslims.
The suspected assailant in Friday’s stabbing had been arrested a month ago for carrying a screwdriver but was not on police radar for Islamic radicalization, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said. He said the screwdriver was considered a weapon, but did not explain why.
The suspect arrived in France three years ago as an unaccompanied minor, apparently from Pakistan, but his identity was still being verified, the minister said.
Seven others were detained in the aftermath of Friday’s attack, but one has been released, according to judicial officials. Five of those in custody were detained in the Paris suburb of Pantin in a residence where the suspect is believed to have lived, a police official said.
Two people were wounded in Friday’s attack, a woman and a man working at a documentary production company who had stepped outside for a smoke break.
The interior minister conceded that security was lacking on the street where Charlie Hebdo was once headquartered, and ordered special protection for all “symbolic sites,” noting in particular Jewish sites around the Yom Kippur holiday this weekend. A Jewish grocery store was targeted days after the Charlie Hebdo newsroom massacre, in what authorities say were co-ordinated attacks.