A man, who attempted to attack the Louvre museum in Paris yesterday (Friday 3 Feb) has been identified by authorities as Abdullah Reda Refaei al-Hamamy, a 29-year-old Egyptian. Francois Molins the French Prosecutor added, “he travelled to Paris from Dubai on a tourist visa last month”. Police are looking into whether the man acted alone or under instructions.
He was shot by French soldiers after he was challenged at the entrance to the museum. He pulled out a machete injuring a soldier guarding the popular tourist destination. One of the soldiers received minor injuries at the time of the incident. Hundreds of visitors were inside enjoying the museum which is home to numerous celebrated artworks, including the Mona Lisa.
“This operation prevented an attack whose terrorist nature leaves little doubt” – President Francois Hollande
All French museums including Louvre have been on high alert in recent years. President Francois Hollande praised the soldiers’ actions, saying “this operation prevented an attack whose terrorist nature leaves little doubt”. He told reporters at an EU summit in Malta on Friday that he expected the suspect to be questioned: “when it is possible to do so”. Fewer foreigners have visited Paris galleries in the past year due to fears of terrorism.
The Egyptian man had no identity papers but mobile phone data showed he had arrived in Paris on 26 January after acquiring a one-month tourist visa in Dubai. However, he cautioned, the authorities have not released the information which is under investigation.
According to the prosecutor, the attacker, armed with the knives, approached soldiers guarding the entrance to crowded shops beneath the Louvre just before 10:00 local time (09:00 GMT). When the soldiers challenged him, he attacked two of them while shouting in Arabic “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”). One of them shot him at least three times, hitting him in the stomach.
The attacker was said to be in a life-threatening condition. The Louvre is one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions which last year pulled in 7.3 million visitors. The Museum went into emergency lock-down after the attack. The popular attraction is set to open today 24 hours after the attack.