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Teacher beheaded in France, suspect shot dead by police

Last Updated Oct 16, 2020 at 12:29 pm PDT

French police officers gather after a history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad was decapitated in a French street on Friday and police have shot the suspected killer dead, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine, north of Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Summary

Police in France say a suspect has been shot dead after a teacher was beheaded in a Paris suburb

The beheading is being called a potential act of terror by police

PARIS — A man has been killed after what French police are calling a potential act of terror in a Paris suburb.

A history teacher who opened a discussion with high school students on caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad was beheaded on a street in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine Friday, while the suspected killer was shot dead in adjoining Eragny, authorities said.

Both towns are located northwest of Paris.

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation concerning murder with a suspected terrorist motive in connection with the gruesome killing, the prosecutor’s office said.

A police official said the suspect, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun — which fires plastic pellets — was shot dead about 600 meters from where the male teacher was killed after he failed to respond to orders to put down his arms, and acted in a threatening manner.

The teacher had received threats after opening the aforementioned discussion “for a debate” about 10 days ago, the police official told The Associated Press. The parent of a student had filed a complaint against the teacher, another police official said, adding that the suspected killer did not have a child at the school. The suspect’s identity was not made public.

The two officials could not be named because they were not authorized to discuss ongoing investigations.

“We didn’t see this coming,” Conflans resident Remi Tell said on CNews TV station. He described the town as peaceful.

It was the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of an ongoing trial on the newsroom massacre in Jan. 2015 at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the publication of caricatures of the prophet of Islam.

As the trial opened, the paper republished caricatures of the prophet to underscore the right of freedom of expression. Exactly three weeks ago, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing, outside the newspaper’s former offices, two people who suffered non life-threatening injuries. The 18-year-old told police he was upset about the publication of the caricatures.

The incident came as Macron’s government is working on a bill to address Islamist radicals who authorities claim are creating a parallel society outside the values of the French Republic.

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Nicolas Vaux-Montagny in Lyon contributed to this report.