Louvre Museum in Paris reopens 24 hours after attack

PARIS: Art lovers returned to the Louvre in Paris on Saturday, 24 hours after a soldier shot a machete-wielding attacker at the museum, believed to be an Egyptian who entered the country a week ago. The incident on Friday thrust security and the terror threat back into the limelight three months before elections in France, with authorities saying it was a “terrorist” assault. It also risked dealing another blow to Paris’ lucrative tourism industry which has been badly affected by a string of attacks since 2015. At the Louvre on Saturday, a crowd had formed at the main entrance as the doors re-opened to the first visitors of the day on schedule at 09:30 am (0830 GMT).
“I’m quite worried about coming today, but as we weren’t able to visit yesterday we decided to come back anyway,” 28-year-old Russian visitor Elena Lordugen said.  Soldiers in uniform with machine guns could be seen patrolling as usual, with routine bag checks also undertaken by Louvre security staff. French investigators say Friday’s attacker, in a black T-shirt bearing a skull design and armed with two machetes, lunged at four patrolling French soldiers. They are examining the Twitter account of an Egyptian man named Abdallah El Hamahmy after around a dozen messages were posted in Arabic between 9:27-9:34 am (0827-0834 GMT), just minutes prior to the attack.
One of the troops was “lightly injured” in the attack after being struck on the head in a public area that leads to one of the museum’s entrance.
A second soldier opened fire five times and hit the machete-wielder in the stomach.
“The attacker fell to the ground, seriously wounded,” Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told a press conference late on Friday.
His condition stabilised in a Parisian hospital, a source close to the case said. Based on his phone and visa records, he is thought to be a 29-year-old Egyptian national who is resident in the United Arab Emirates.
Investigators have established he entered France legally on a flight from Dubai on January 26 and had rented an expensive apartment near the Champs Elysee, sources close to the case said. The government of the United Arab Emirates condemned the “hateful crime” and assured France of its “full solidarity”.
President Francois Hollande said that “there is little doubt as to the terrorist nature of this act,” an assessment echoed by Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.  France was already reeling from a string of terror attacks over the last two years and the country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015.  The economy, immigration and security are major issues for voters ahead of this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections forecast to confirm the country’s shift to the right after five years of Socialist rule. — AFP