France is deploying 7,000 soldiers in response to a tragic incident where a teacher was fatally stabbed by a man of Chechen origin. The attacker also severely injured three other individuals at a school in the northeastern town of Arras. The attack occurred in an area with significant Jewish and Muslim communities.
The suspected attacker, Mohammed Moguchkov, was apprehended by the police. During the preliminary investigation, he was reported to have uttered the Arabic phrase “Allahu akbar!” (God is greatest).
Authorities have indicated a potential connection to ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. President Emmanuel Macron characterized the incident as an act of “Islamist terror.”
The deployment of these soldiers is part of Operation Sentinelle, which involves 10,000 soldiers and 4,700 police and gendarmes. This operation was initiated in the aftermath of the January 2015 attacks to safeguard sensitive areas of the country from terrorism. The soldiers are expected to be fully deployed by Monday.
President Macron, while visiting the school, expressed that this act of terrorism had deeply affected the educational institution. He commended the victim for their bravery in confronting the attacker and suggested that their actions may have saved many lives.
In addition to the Arras incident, Macron disclosed that security forces had thwarted another attempted attack in a different region. According to the interior ministry, this involved the arrest of a “radicalized” individual who was found carrying a prohibited weapon while leaving a prayer hall in the Yvelines region of Paris.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin later acknowledged a potential link between the Arras incident and events in the Middle East. France elevated its security alert level to the highest position following a crucial security meeting chaired by President Macron.
In total, eight individuals were in police custody at the time, including the primary suspect’s family members. An investigation into the incident has been initiated by the national anti-terrorist prosecutor.
The suspected attacker, Moguchkov, is in his twenties and hails from Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region in Russia. He was previously on a French national watchlist known as “Fiche S” as a potential security threat and was under the surveillance of France’s domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI.
The victim, a French teacher, suffered stab wounds to the throat and chest. Among the injured were a school security guard, who was severely stabbed and is in critical condition, as well as another teacher with less serious injuries. A cleaner was also wounded. Fortunately, no students at the school were harmed.
This incident occurred nearly three years after the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty, also by a Chechen, near his school in a Paris suburb on October 16, 2020.
During the attack, pupils and teachers at the school were initially confined to the premises but were later allowed to leave. A substantial security cordon was established around the school, with parents gathering anxiously. Emergency services and law enforcement personnel were promptly deployed to the scene.
A philosophy teacher who witnessed the attack described a moment of panic during the break when students found themselves face-to-face with the armed assailant. The teacher recounted the assailant’s actions and how the police eventually immobilized him.
France has experienced a series of attacks by Islamist extremists since 2015, including the November 2015 suicide and gun attacks claimed by the Islamic State group (IS) in Paris, resulting in the loss of 130 lives. Although there has been a reduction in such incidents in recent years, officials have emphasized that the threat persists.
In response to these events, President Macron announced heightened security measures for 582 religious and cultural facilities in France. These measures were introduced following an attack by Hamas on Israel. Macron called for unity and solidarity among the French population.
French Education Minister Gabriel Attal instructed regional education officials to enhance security at schools promptly. In a bid to maintain public order, Minister Darmanin temporarily prohibited pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France, although some gatherings defied this ban, resulting in arrests and the use of tear gas by the police.