NICE, France (AFP) -French investigators were Wednesday interrogating a knife-wielding man who attacked three soldiers outside a Jewish centre in Nice, as questions resurfaced over security measures a month after the Paris attacks.
The attacker, identified as 30-year-old Moussa Coulibaly from the poor western suburbs of Paris, was already known to police who questioned him just days before the attack, when he was expelled from Turkey last week.
Police arrested him immediately after he knifed the soldiers in broad daylight while they were patrolling outside the centre – part of reinforced security measures introduced after last month’s attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead.
Two of the troops received knife wounds and a third managed to tackle the assailant to the ground.
“This attempted murder targeted soldiers because they were soldiers,” Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a visit to the victims’ barracks on Wednesday.
Anti-terrorist police were focusing their investigation on whether Coulibaly had known the soldiers were protecting a Jewish centre, tucked away in a courtyard in the French Riviera city, and what his motives were.
They were also questioning his mother, sister and brother who were taken in after police searched his home in the poor suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie.
Since returning from France after his expulsion from Turkey on January 29, Coulibaly was staying at a hotel near Nice station, where investigators found a handwritten document on religion and Turkish currency.
The knifeman has not been linked to Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policewoman and four Jewish shoppers in a kosher supermarket during the Paris attacks last month before being shot dead by police.