Authorities in Paris are currently investigating an apparent terrorist attack on a police officer by a man armed with a hammer. A spokesperson said the man assaulted the police officer outside the world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, bashing him in the head with a large hammer.
Police are calling the attack an act of Terror in a switch from their usual “wait and see” attitude. Investigators say the wounded officer fired twice at the hammer-wielding man in the square in front of the cathedral. Both the shots struck the terrorist and the French police told Fox News that the attacker was currently being treated at a local hospital, though they did not disclose the exact treatment location. Nor did authorities comment on the current conditions of the two men.
The French interior minister issued a statement saying in part that the suspect had been threatening several policemen and passersby at the time of the attack. Paris has been under high security after a string of Islamic extremist attacks in recent years. Just after 11a.m. local time, the U.S. Embassy issued an alert to citizen traveling there advising them to stay clear of the Notre Dame area via twitter.
Security Message: ongoing security incident at Notre Dame Cathedral – U.S. citizens should avoid the area & follow advice of authorities
This message followed closely behind one issued by the Paris police who initially wrote on Twitter that there is a “number of police” in the area and urged peopled to avoid the world-famous cathedral as the incident unfolded. One witness to the event was Matthew Currie Holmes who tweeted out that:
so we are trapped in Notre Dame Cathedral. Something is happening outside we don’t know what it is. Police sirens can be heard #NotreDame
Meanwhile, social media lit up with messages from, people who reported that they were “trapped” in the cathedral due to an incident outside. One person in the cathedral Tweeted that police officers instructed them to “raise their hands.” Later others sent messages which said officers were starting to let them out of the cathedral.
Paris officials responded with a major show of force literally flooding the huge square outside the church with dozens of police and emergency vehicles. One witness said that large numbers of police cars filled the area on the Ile de Cite island in the River Seine in the center of Paris.