Samual Paty named as teacher beheaded in the streets as police arrest nine people
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French police have detained nine people after a teenager beheaded a history teacher in broad daylight on the street in a Paris suburb.
The suspect – an 18-year-old Moscow-born Chechen refugee – was shot dead by police near to the scene. Authorities investigating the killing of 47-year-old Samuel Paty in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on Friday, revealed that four relatives of the attacker, including a minor, were detained in the immediate aftermath.
Five more were detained overnight, including two parents of pupils at the College du Bois d’Aulne where the teacher was employed.
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It is unknown whether the attacker acted alone or with accomplices, but the killing shocked the country and was reminiscent of an attack five years ago on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Laurent Brosse, mayor of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine said: “We’ll pick ourselves up together, thanks to our spirit of solidarity.”
A vile act
A man raises a sign reading “I am a teacher” among people demonstrating in Rennes, western France on October 17, 2020, one day after a teacher was beheaded by an attacker who was shot dead by policemen in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 30kms northwest of Paris (Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP via Getty Images)
Earlier this month Mr Paty had shown pupils cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in a civics class on freedom of expression, which angered some Muslims who believe any depiction of the prophet is blasphemous.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said the attack bore the hallmarks of Islamist terrorism.
He said: “I want to share with you my total indignation. Secularism, the backbone of the French Republic, was targeted in this vile act.”
On Friday night, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught…the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe.”
A week ago, one man who said his daughter was in Mr Paty’s class recorded a video shared on social media, in which he branded the teacher a thug and appealed to others to “join forces and say ‘stop, don’t touch our children’.”
Police opened fire on the suspect approximately 600 metres from where Mr Paty died, after he failed to respond to orders to put down his arms and acted in a threatening manner.
Investigation for murder
Girls light candles outside the school where a slain history teacher was working (Photo: AP/Michel Euler) Photographer: Michel Euler Provider: AP Source: AP
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office said authorities investigating the killing have detained nine people, including the teen’s grandfather, parents and 17-year-old brother.
French anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said an investigation for murder with a suspected terrorist motive had been opened.
Mr Ricard told reporters that the suspect, who had been granted a 10-year residency in France as a refugee in March and was not known to intelligence services, had been armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, which fires plastic pellets.
The prosecutor said a text claiming responsibility and a photograph of the victim were found on the suspect’s phone.
Mr Ricard said the suspect had been seen at the school asking students about the teacher, and the headmaster had received several threatening phone calls.
Mourners marched near the school in solidarity, holding signs that read “I am a teacher”, and the presidential Elysee Palace said that there will be a national ceremony at a future date in homage to Mr Paty.
This is the second time in three weeks that terror has struck France linked to caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Last month, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after attacking two people with a meat cleaver outside the former offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which has published caricatures of the prophet on several occasions.
Meanwhile, Mr Macron’s government is working on a bill to address Islamic radicals, who authorities claim are creating a parallel society outside the values of the French Republic.