LILLE, France — A sword-wielding man in his 40s was shot by police officers in a neighbourhood of northern Lille, France, according to local TV, after he killed a woman who was disfigured by an acid attack in June and then went on a rampage.
A neighbor said Tuesday that the attacker targeted a homeless man who could be seen lying on the pavement in June and beaten up by the unidentified assailant. That attacker was later jailed and formally charged.
Facing swelling anti-immigrant sentiment in France and poor relations with police, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe asked officers to stay alert.
The assailant entered a crowded restaurant in the northern city’s Novotel Hôtel area Monday, asking the cafe’s owner if he was one of the managers, said Maya, a 25-year-old restaurant worker who asked that her last name not be used. The man wore camouflage clothing and a ski mask.
The man came up to a table where a woman was sitting and grabbed a pot of vinaigrette from her hands, Maya said. After running off, the man reappeared outside holding a knife and told people to get down on the ground.
He slashed at people, stabbed a family at a nearby bench and yelled at an old man standing near the entrance to the hotel, Maya said.
“He said: ‘Come on! Go back, I’ll kill you!’ And then he put the knife in his leg,” she said.
Police in riot gear and armed with automatic weapons then intervened.
President Emmanuel Macron, who was abroad on Tuesday, expressed concern over the incident and offered his support to his security team, his office said.
“I reiterate the need to improve the reaction of security services, including at the street level, as recently demonstrated in Lille,” Macron said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear what role, if any, the man played in the June acid attack. A 33-year-old Frenchman, Karim Cheurfi, is charged with attempted murder and other offenses for the incident, in which he threw sulphuric acid in the face of a 75-year-old woman and severely burned her face.
The woman remains in an induced coma at a hospital in Nice, according to French TV.