Teacher killed, two injured in terrorist knife attack at French school

The perpetrator, who is on the state’s ‘fiché S’ watch list of people considered to pose a possible security risk to the state, has been arrested. He is a former student at the school

A view of a Police Nationale badge on a police officer’s arm
The perpetrator has been arrested, the interior minister has confirmed
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A teacher has been killed and several other people injured in a knife attack at a school in northern France this morning (Friday, October 13), which authorities are calling a terrorist incident.

What do we know so far?

Early reports state that the attack took place at around 11:00 at the Lycée Gambetta in Arras (Pas-de-Calais).

A literature teacher has been killed. Another staff member was stabbed multiple times and is in a critical condition in hospital. Another teacher has also been taken to hospital with less serious wounds. No students were injured.

Staff and students were locked down in their classrooms after the perpetrator began the attack.

Just after 12:30, the national anti-terrorist unit - le Parquet national antiterroriste - took over the investigation.

It has opened an inquiry on charges of “murder in connection with a terrorist undertaking”, “attempted murder in connection with a terrorist undertaking”, and “terrorist criminal association with a view to preparing crimes against persons”.

What do we know about the perpetrator?

The suspected perpetrator - thought to be a former student of the school - has been arrested. He was reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar” during the attack.

He is aged 20. Born in Russia, he is believed to be of Chechen origin.

He is ‘fiché S’. This means that he is known to authorities and was on a ‘watch list’ of people considered to pose a possible security risk to the state. The ‘S’ stands for sûreté d’Etat (state safety).

Those who are fiché S have not yet attempted a crime related to the reason for their listing, but being added to the list helps authorities to gather information on their actions and whereabouts. However, being fiché S alone is not enough to order an arrest.

Read more: What does the term ‘fiche S’ mean?

The perpetrator’s brother has also been arrested.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “A police operation has taken place at the Lycée Gambetta in Arras. The perpetrator was arrested by the police.”

What has been the response so far?

President Emmanuel Macron visited the site along with Xavier Bertrand, president of the Ile-de-France region.

He wrote on X: “All my support to the students, teachers and staff of the Hauts-de-France region after the appalling knife attack at the Lycée Gambetta in Arras. I'm on my way to the scene.”

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has announced that she has cancelled her planned visit to Orléans, and will be returning to Paris to address the incident.

The National Education Minister, Gabriel Attal, demanded more security for schools.

"We must lose no time in implementing every measure possible to reinforce security in all schools," he said in a communique to regional prefects.

A crisis centre offering medical and psychological support to all of the school’s personnel and students has been opened. Another crisis centre has also been opened by the Arras Mairie.

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