Four police were killed in a knife attack at their Paris headquarters before the suspect was shot dead, authorities said.

The motive was not immediately clear, but a source close to the case told Euronews that authorities were in the process of verifying reports that the attacker had recently converted to Islam.

“We mourn the death of four civil servants from two services in the Paris police force”, the Paris prosecutor said in a press conference. “Three men and one woman, three of them worked as police officers and one as an administrative assistant, have been killed.”

Another victim was still in hospital on Thursday evening and is recovering.

The Paris police said that it had been “afflicted by a terrible drama” and thanked President Emmanuel Macron, the PM Edouard Philippe and the Interior Minister for their support.

The attacker, a 45-year-old man, had been working as an administrative assistant in the IT department of the Paris police since 2003, the French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

“He had never shown any behavioural difficulty and today went on this murderous path”, Castaner said.

A source close to the case told Euronews that authorities were in the process of verifying reports that the attacker had recently converted to Islam.

The Interior Minister said he sent “thoughts to the families of the victims” and guaranteed his “full support” to the entire Paris police staff.

He praised the work of “all police officer in France, who work every day to prevent crime such as the one that happened today in this very place.”

An investigation into “murder and attempted murder on people in a position of public authority” has been opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office, the prosecutor said.

“Paris mourns this afternoon after this horrific attack at the [police headquarters]. The death toll is high; several police officers lost their lives. On my behalf and on the behalf of Parisians, my first thoughts go to the family and relatives of victims,” Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, tweeted.

“All our thoughts are with the victims and their families,” the French Justice Minister, Nicole Belloubet, said in an address in the country’s parliament, l’Assemblee nationale. “In these painful and tragic circumstances, we send our full support to employees and civil servants of the Paris police.”

The incident comes after thousands of police officers took part in an “anger march” on Wednesday to demand better working conditions and respond to high suicide rates amongst police forces.

 

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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