Ethnic Chechen Suspected In Beheading Of Teacher In France

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French police were questioning nine people in custody on October 17 after a man beheaded a schoolteacher on a street in a Paris suburb, police sources said.

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty

French police were questioning nine people in custody on October 17 after a man beheaded a schoolteacher on a street in a Paris suburb, police sources said.

Police said the victim was 47-year-old history and geography teacher Samuel Paty, who recently showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as part of a class discussion on freedom of expression.

The man suspected of beheading Paty was an 18-year-old born in Moscow who was from Russia's southern region of Chechnya, French media reported.

French police sources said the nine detained suspects included the grandparents and 17-year-old brother of the attacker. The assailant was shot by police as they tried to arrest him and later died of his injuries, police said.

There had been no previous indication that he was a potential radical, a source close to the investigation was quoted as saying by AFP.

Chechnya is a region in Russia's North Caucasus that has been wracked by two separatist wars and an Islamist insurgency since the 1990s.

French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the October 16 incident as “an "Islamist terrorist attack.”

“One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught...freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe,” Macron said at the scene hours after the incident.

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation for murder with a suspected terrorist motive, the prosecutor’s office said.

The suspected attacker was reportedly spotted holding a knife a short distance from the scene of the attack. As police confronted him, the attacker shouted, "Allahu akbar" -- Arabic for "God is most great" -- a cry often heard in jihadist attacks, AFP quoted a police source as saying.

The attack happened in Conflans Saint-Honorine at around 5 p.m. on October 16 near the middle school where the victim taught history.

Muslim leaders condemned the killing, which many public figures perceived as an attack on the essence of French statehood and its values of secularism, freedom of worship, and freedom of expression.

In the National Assembly, France's parliament, deputies stood to honor the teacher and condemn the "atrocious terror attack."

France has seen a series of violent attacks carried out by Islamist militants in recent years. It has the biggest Muslim population in Western Europe, some of them ethnic Chechens who have been offered asylum.

With reporting by Reuters, Le Monde, AP, AFP, CNN, and dpa
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