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Charlie Hebdo: Suspected Paris knife attacker to be charged with attempted murder

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By Euronews  with AFP
Police guard a street near the scene of the knife attack
Police guard a street near the scene of the knife attack   -   Copyright  AP Photo

The main suspect in a knife attack outside the former Charlie Hebdo premises in Paris last week is to be charged with attempted murder and terrorist criminal association.

Two people were injured in the attack on Friday 25 September, outside the former office of the satirical magazine which was the scene of a terror attack in 2015 which left 11 people dead.

It was initially reported that the suspect in Friday’s attack was an 18-year-old, but a prosecutor said he admitted he was actually a 25-year-old called Zaheer Hassan Mahmoud, after a Pakistani identity document was found on his phone.

The national anti-terrorism prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said the suspect was “totally unknown to the intelligence services” under both identities.

He is due to be presented on Tuesday afternoon to an investigating judge to be indicted for "attempted murder" and "terrorist criminal association".

The National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor's Office has requested that he be remanded in custody.

In total, apart from Zaheer Hassan Mahmoud, ten people have been held in police custody so far in this investigation.

Five were released between Friday and Monday, and the national anti-terrorist prosecutor announced on Tuesday that the last five had also been released.

‘Anger’ about cartoons

According to the prosecutor, the suspect said he was “angry” about the recent publication and republication by Charlie Hebdo of cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

Many Muslims find cartoons of Muhammad extremely offensive.

The prosecutor also confirmed the suspect had planned his act in advance, with an initial plan “to enter the newspaper's premises, if necessary with the hammer, and set them on fire with the bottles of white spirit".

"When he arrived in front of the street and saw the victims, he thought they were working for (Charlie Hebdo) and decided to attack them", said the prosecutor.

Charlie Hebdo, which has moved premises, republished the cartoons on the eve of the trial of those involved in the 2015 attack.