x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

French police search for man who stabbed soldier

Stabbing follows murder of British soldier on a London street in broad daylight in suspected terrorist attack that has raised fears of potential copycat strikes.

PARIS // French anti-terrorism investigators were searching yesterday for a man who stabbed a soldier in the throat in the commercial district of La Defense outside Paris.

The 23-year-old soldier, Cedric Cordier, was in uniform patrolling the busy underground corridors where shops and crowded public transport lines converge beneath the famous Arch of La Defense.

The stabbing on Saturday came three days after a British soldier was hacked to death on a London street in broad daylight in a suspected terrorist attack that has raised fears of potential copycat strikes. However, there was no immediate confirmation of any link between the two attacks.

Mr Cordier remained in hospital yesterday but officials said his wound was not life-threatening.

The French soldier was on a group patrol as part of a national protection programme when he was attacked from behind.

The French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who visited Mr Cordier in hospital on Saturday evening, said that he had been targeted because he was a soldier.

Speaking shortly after the attack while on an official visit to Ethiopia, the French president, Francois Hollande, said that while "all hypotheses" would be investigated, there did not appear to be a link with Wednesday's deadly attack in London.

French security forces have been on heightened alert since the military intervention to regain territory seized by Islamic radicals in the African nation of Mali in January. The British prime minister, David Cameron, was in Paris meeting Mr Hollande when he first received word of the London attack.

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