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Police shoot suspected suicide bomber in Islamic veil in Paris

By CM Chaney · November 1, 2023

In brief…

  • Woman wearing Islamic veil shot by police at Paris metro station after threatening to blow herself up
  • Woman was shouting "Allahu akbar" and said she had explosives, prompting evacuation of station
  • Shooting comes amid tensions over Israel-Hamas conflict and friction between France's Muslim and Jewish communities
  • Prosecutors opened investigations into incident - one against woman for making threats, one examining police actions
French police shot and critically wounded a woman in an Islamic veil who allegedly threatened to detonate explosives in a Paris metro station, an incident that comes amid heightened tensions in France.  Chabe01 / Wikimedia

Police shot and critically injured a woman wearing an Islamic veil after she allegedly threatened to detonate explosives at a metro station in Paris on Tuesday morning. The shooting occurred around 9:20 am at the Bibliothèque François-Mitterrand station during rush hour.

The unnamed victim was hit by at least one bullet after passengers on a suburban train alerted police to her behavior. Officers arrived on the scene shortly after 8:30 am and found the woman dressed in an Islamic veil and shouting “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is the Greatest,” according to police sources.

She reportedly threatened to blow herself up, prompting police to retreat and isolate her at the metro station. After failed attempts to get the woman to comply with orders and disarm, an officer opened fire, shooting her in the stomach. She was evacuated to the hospital in critical condition.

The shooting led officials to enact France’s Vigipirate anti-terrorism plan, shutting down the metro station, evacuating civilians, and surrounding the area with soldiers. Police said the woman was initially spotted at another suburban metro station that morning, making worrisome comments. When she boarded a train to central Paris, police were waiting to intercept her.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions in France over the Israel-Hamas conflict and friction between the country’s Muslim and Jewish communities. However, no direct connection was immediately made between the metro shooting and Middle East tensions.

The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened two investigations related to the shooting - one against the woman for making death threats and promoting terrorism, and one examining potential misconduct by the police officer who opened fire.

Just last month, riots broke out in France after the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old Muslim youth. The country has been on high alert for terrorist attacks since a teacher was murdered by an Islamic extremist in October 2020. This latest shooting will likely draw intense scrutiny of French police tactics in engaging with suspected extremists.