Paris shooting: Fear of repeat attacks as police hunt gunman that opened fire on Libération newspaper
Soon afterwards shots were fired at the headquarters of a major French bank just west of Paris, and a gunman took a man hostage briefly nearby
John Lichfield has been The Independent's man in Paris since 1997, covering French news. Before that, he was the paper's Foreign Editor and he has also worked in Brussels and Washington. In 1999, he was the UK press Awards Foreign Reporter of the year.
Tuesday 19 November 2013
Fear gripped the French media world last night after the government warned that a gunman who attacked the left-wing newspaper Libération is likely to strike again.
The man, dressed in a khaki parka and dark cap, burst into the newspaper's reception area in eastern Paris yesterday and fired at least two fragmentation bullets from a pump-action rifle, gravely wounding a young photographer. The same gunman, a short-haired or shaven-headed "European" in his 40's, is believed to have threatened staff at the news channel BFM TV last Friday.
An hour after the shooting at Libération, a man of the same description fired random shots at the headquarters of the bank Société Générale in the La Défense office district just west of Paris proper. A few minutes later a car was hijacked at gunpoint nearby and then abandoned on the Avenue des Champs Elysées, near the Arc de Triomphe.
Police said last night that they were looking for a single suspect for all three incidents.
Throughout the afternoon and evening teams of heavily armed police combed the streets around the busiest thoroughfare in the French capital. A helicopter circled low overhead. Police cars drove slowly up and down the Champs Elysees to allow officers to scan the faces of passers-by.
In-mid afternoon, there was an alert at the Maison de la Radio, the home of the state radio channels on the right bank of the Seine. It was reported that the gunman might be approaching. All staff were ordered to go to their offices. The alert came to nothing.
Hazy pictures of the presumed gunman, taken by security cameras, were published this evening. They showed a beefy-looking, white man with short hair or a shaven head, wearing a khaki parka, dark glasses and light blue jeans.
The interior minister, Manuel Valls, said that the Libération entrance hall had been turned into a "war scene which has no place in a democracy". He warned that it was likely that the gunman would try to strike at the media again.
"This is an attack not just on Libération but on on all French journalists and all French people. There can be no tolerance for people who attack fundamental liberties," he said.
A 27 years old freelance photographer, who was helping to put together a Christmas special for the newspaper's weekend magazine, was struck at point blank range in the back and shoulder. He was said to be "critically ill" last night after emergency operations at the La Pitié Salpètriere hospital.
Lionel, who works in the Libération computer department, described the attack on the newspaper's Facebook page. "There was blood everywhere and cartridges on the floor," he said. "I started to give first aid to the victim… I had to keep him from losing consciousness. He had been struck by a fragmentation bullet, as big as a thumb, fired at point-blank range. It went into his back and came out by his left breast."
Nicolas Demorand, Libération's publisher, said that newspaper had no security at its front entrance because it did not want to "work behind a bullet-proof screen". Libération, founded 40 years ago by the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre amongst others, is a left-wing daily newspaper aimed chiefly at the young. Its front page today was devoted to a new plan to combat poverty in troubled multi-racial suburbs.
- 1 Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
- 3 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 4 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Nazi gold train: 'Significant' discovery made in Poland
Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Carol Vorderman reveals she is 'covered in burns' after she fell off her treadmill while running naked
TTIP controversy: The European Commission and Big Tobacco accused of cover-up after heavily redacted documents released
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...
£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...