Man shot dead by police in jihadist attack in Tours

Bertrand Nzohabonayo had posted the 'Islamic State' (Isis) flag on his Facebook page last week, but was not previously known to be a potential jihadist

French anti-terrorism police are investigating an attack on a provincial police station where three officers were slashed by an assailant with a large knife before he was shot dead.

The attacker, identified  as Bertrand Nzohabonayo, of Burundian origin, shouted Allahu Akbar [God is great] before lunging  at the officers at Joué-lès-Tours, a suburb of Tours in central France on Saturday. Two policemen were gravely injured and a third wounded before the man was shot dead.

Nzohabonayo, 20, had posted the  “Islamic State” (Isis) flag on his Facebook page last week, but was not previously known to be a potential jihadist. His brother is thought to have jihadist sympathies, but the attacker was seen as a “quiet man”, a former amateur footballer and football referee.

On Saturday evening, he rang the station’s bell, and when an officer opened the door, he slashed his face from mouth to ear with a large knife, police said. Two other officers tried to overpower Nzohabonayo. One was stabbed seriously and another cut slightly, before another policeman shot the attacker dead.

Investigators said Nzohabonayo was believed to be suffering from depression after a series of domestic quarrels. He converted to Islam four  years ago, but – unlike his brother – was not regarded as an extremist or potential jihadist.

More than 900 French citizens are believed by French counter-terrorism agencies to have travelled to join Isis in Syria or Iraq or to work in networks sympathetic to Isis in France. Many are youngsters who have converted to Islam.

Joué-lès-Tours is a small town on the outskirts of Tours, a quiet city on the Loire. The mayor, Frédéric Augis, described the attack as “an isolated event in a peaceful town”. “There are good relations here between all religious communities. This is a town of peace,” he said.