France will mobilize up to 7,000 soldiers to bolster security across the nation after a teacher was tragically stabbed and three other people were injured in a school attack by a former pupil suspected of Islamic radicalization, the president’s office said on Saturday.
After the attack on Friday that shook France amid international tensions over the Israel-Hamas war, some students, parents, and staff members returned to the Gambetta-Carnot school in the northern city of Arras as it reopened Saturday morning in an effort to rekindle their relationships and seek support.
According to prosecutors, the stabbing is being investigated by counterterrorism officials, and numerous people, including the alleged attacker, are in jail. The suspect had recently been monitored by intelligence agencies for signs of radicalization.
Friday’s school stabbing attack in France came after warnings that the leader of Hamas called for a global day of jihad on that day.
According to court records seen by The Associated Press, he is from the Chechen neighboring Ingushetia area of Russia’s Caucasus Mountains. He was initially classified as Chechen by the authorities.
President Emmanuel Macron ordered up to 7,000 soldiers to be deployed by Monday night and until further notice to strengthen security and alertness throughout France, according to his office. The French government also raised the national threat level. The threat posture of “attack emergency” enables the government to temporarily activate the military for the purpose of securing public areas, among other actions.
The attacker’s precise motivation is still unknown, and he is reportedly unwilling to cooperate with detectives.
Police were on duty at the school Saturday morning when adults and kids arrived. Although there were no classes, the school reopened for anyone who wished to congregate or look for assistance. One mother claimed she brought her 17-year-old daughter as a sign of defiance against extremism and to get over her dread of going back to the location where kids were trapped in for hours following the stabbing.
Another mother arrived to ask the counselors for advice on how to support her two sons after they witnessed the attack in the schoolyard.
“As adults, we are managing with difficulty to take a step back, but for them, they’re children,” said Emily Noge, arriving at the school with her sons and partner. ‘’They initially thought it was an exercise, so keeping things separate, to say that we’ve passed from an exercise to something dramatic, is very tricky for them.”
‘’It’s always the same moments that come back: The schoolyard, the chairs to protect themselves, the stabbings, the whys. ‘Why us? Why Arras? Why the teachers? They were good teachers. They were there to protect us,”’ she said.
Many people in France were reminded by the attack of the murder of another teacher, Samuel Paty, who was shot and killed beside his school almost precisely three years prior. He was executed by police after being beheaded by a radicalized Chechen.
According to French intelligence services who spoke to the AP, the suspect in this week’s incident had been watched throughout the summer due to suspicions of Islamic radicalization. Based on the surveillance of his recent phone calls, he was taken into custody for interrogation on Thursday, but no evidence of him planning an attack was discovered, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
According to the minister, French intelligence showed a connection between the Middle East conflict and the suspect’s decision to launch the attack. Since the Hamas attack on Israel, he claimed, officials have apprehended 12 persons near schools or places of worship, some of whom were armed and ready to use their weapons. This week, France increased security at thousands of Jewish landmarks around the nation.
The prosecutor claimed that the alleged attacker was a former pupil who shouted “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” throughout the assault. Charges of terrorism-related murder and attempted murder against the suspect are being considered by the prosecution.
Dominique Bernard, a French instructor at the Gambetta-Carnot school for pupils ages 11 to 18, passed away. According to officials, a second teacher and a security guard who had been stabbed were both in severe condition. A housekeeping staff member was also hurt, according to the counterterrorism prosecutor.
In his statement announcing the school’s reopening on Saturday, Macron asked the French people to “stay united.”
“The choice has been made not to give in to terror,” he said. “We must not let anything divide us, and we must remember that schools and the transmission of knowledge are at the heart of this fight against ignorance.”