Police open fire at Paris train station on woman making 'threats'
October 31, 2023 08:26 PM
French police on Tuesday shot and seriously wounded an unarmed woman who was making threats at a train station in Paris during morning rush hour, police and prosecutors told told AFP.
According to witnesses the 38-year-old woman, who was completely veiled, shouted "Allahu akbar" ("God is Greatest") and "made threats", a police source said, adding that "police fired because they feared for their safety".
After passengers on a suburban train travelling from the eastern suburbs to Paris alerted police, agents managed to "isolate" the woman at the Bibliotheque Francois Mitterrand station on the capital's south bank which was evacuated, the source said.
She "refused to follow police orders" and threatened "to blow herself up", the Paris prosecutor's office said.
Two police officers then fired eight rounds at the woman, inflicting a life-threatening injury to her abdomen, the prosecutor's office said. It had earlier said that one officer had fired only one shot.
No explosives or other arms were found on the woman who was taken to hospital, the police source said.
Police have launched two investigations, prosecutors said. One will probe the woman's actions, while another is to elucidate whether the police's use of a firearm was justified.
Government spokesman Olivier Veran said that there had been "at least three" calls from passengers to rail operator SNCF, which in turn alerted police.
"Police, evaluating the situation to be dangerous, opened fire," he told reporters.
Footage from the officers' bodycams and from CCTV at the station would help establish the facts of the case precisely, he said.
Veran said that the woman had a previous conviction for threatening patrolling soldiers. There were questions concerning her mental health, he said.
"We will know more in the coming hours," Veran said.
Two police sources added that the woman had been put on a radicalisation watchlist at one point, although it was not certain whether her name was still on the list.
France has been under "attack alert" since October 13, when a teacher in the northern city of Arras was stabbed to death by an Islamist former pupil.
Many in France, which has large Muslim and Jewish populations, also fear repercussions from the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel and the subsequent Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
Bomb alerts have led to the evacuation of dozens of airports, train stations and tourist sites -- including the Versailles palace -- in recent weeks.
On Monday, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that there had been 819 anti-Semitic acts in France since October 7, and 414 connected arrests.