A deadly knife attack occurred at a high school in Arras, France on Friday morning, leaving one teacher dead and two others seriously injured.
Around 9:15am, an assailant armed with a knife entered the Gambetta High School and began attacking people before being apprehended by police. The attacker, identified as a 20-year-old former student of Chechen origin, shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he carried out the stabbings, according to witnesses.
The teacher who was killed was a French language instructor at the school. A sports teacher and a security guard were also wounded, with the guard sustaining serious injuries.
Numerous students witnessed the horrific attack, which took place in a common area of the school. Many described chaotic and frightening scenes as the incident unfolded.
Police arrested a suspect believed to be the lone attacker. He was known to authorities and on a terror watch list, but had no known direct ties Islamist organisations. The prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into charges of murder and attempted murder related to terrorism.
The deadly violence comes amid heightened tensions in France after recent Islamic extremist attacks, including the 2020 beheading of teacher Samuel Paty in Paris. Paty was murdered after showing Charlie Hebdo cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad to students in a lesson on free speech.
The Arras attack also occurred just hours after President Emmanuel Macron urged national unity and caution about importing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as tensions have risen between France’s Jewish and Muslim communities.
Macron condemned the latest attack and vowed support for the school community. Across the political spectrum, officials expressed horror and offered condolences to victims’ families.
While the attacker’s motives remain under investigation, police are exploring all angles, including Islamic radicalism. France remains on high alert for terrorist threats after numerous attacks in recent years. The stabbings have renewed concerns about security at schools across the country.
The Arras tragedy signifies another chilling attack in France by what appears to be a lone-wolf assailant. As the country continues to confront the threat of Islamic extremism, many questions remain about how to prevent such violent acts from recurring.