A knife man who stabbed a policewoman, stole her gun and then fled in France has been arrested after a shootout with gendarmes.
The man was detained somewhere near the city of Nantes on Friday afternoon after he attacked a police station in La Chappelle-sur-Erdre at around 10 a.m.
Initially, he attacked a policewoman in her forties, punching her repeatedly in the legs and arms before grabbing her gun and fleeing the scene.
Several hours later, he got into a shootout with gendarmes, hitting one in the hand and the other in the arm before being shot and arrested.
The policewoman sustained a potentially life-threatening thigh injury, according to French media, while none of the gendarmes was seriously injured.
The suspect is in a serious condition. Police described the man as in his forties and with a history of psychiatric problems, but gave no further details.
A knife man who stabbed a female officer in a police station in La Chappelle-sur-Erdre in western France on Friday morning has been arrested after a shootout with gendarmes
Officers say the man – presumably in his 40s – repeatedly stabbed the woman in the legs and arms, stole her service weapon, and then fled the scene
It follows a string of similar attacks across France, including a female police officer murdered by an Islamist mesman in the Parisian suburb of Rambouillet last month.
In Friday’s attacks, the man saw “ the female officer several times with a knife at police headquarters, ” said a local police spokesperson.
“The man then took the officer’s gun and fled,” the spokesman said.
240 officers, including members of the elite armed response unit GIGN, have since been mobilized to search for the attacker.
Local residents have been told not to leave their homes, and students have been locked up in schools.
The injured officer, who has not been named, was rushed to hospital with a “ very serious thigh injury that could be life-threatening, ” the source said.
Witnesses said they saw the attacker get into a VW Golf after the attack, but then crashed the car, got out and fled on food.
The attack took place in La Chappelle-sure-Erdre, a commune close to the city of Nantes
Hours after the first stabbing, the man got into a shootout with gendarmes – two he lightly injured before being shot and left in serious condition
Police say the suspect has a history of psychiatric problems but did not say why he was at the police station or give no idea of his motive
“He brandished the gun of the police officer he had stabbed,” said the town hall spokesman.
Heavily armed GIGN officers led the manhunt, along with police and gendarmes, and a helicopter had been deployed, the spokesman added.
There was no initial clue as to the mesman’s motives, the police spokesman said.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted after the attack that “I refuse to accept that this is our daily life,” adding, “We must finally fight this barbarism and never, absolutely never get used to it.”
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he will go to the site of the attack with State Secretary Sarah El Haïry to supervise the operation.
It comes after a series of such attacks, including last month in Rambouillet, in which a The 36-year-old immigrant from Tunisia stabbed a policewoman to death and was subsequently shot by police.
Other attacks included the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty by a Russian-born terrorist last October.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted after the attack that ‘I refuse to accept that this is our daily life’ and ‘we must finally fight this barbarism’
The deadliest terrorist attack ever in the country took place in November 2015, when 130 people were killed in Paris.
Suicide bombers pledging allegiance to ISIS targeted the Stade de France, cafes, restaurants and the Bataclan music venue, where 90 people died.
Earlier this year, two Paris-born gunmen linked to al-Qaeda broke into the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 and injuring 11.
In July 2016, 86 people were killed and more than 400 injured when a 19-ton truck was deliberately driven into the crowd on Nice’s boulevard in the south of France.
The terrorist turned out to be a radicalized Tunisian immigrant who was shot dead by the police.
In the same month, two Isis terrorists murdered an 86-year-old Catholic priest during a church service in Normandy.
There have been regular knife attacks on law enforcement officers, which have resulted in the death of the police on duty.
In October 2019, a radicalized computer worker working in the Parisian prefecture in central Paris stabbed to death four of his colleagues.
The attacker – who was also shot – turned out to be a Muslim convert who kept extremist literature and images of Al-Qaeda and Islamic State on his computer.