PARIS (AFP) – French President Emmanuel Macron vowed an “unrelenting fight” against extremists on yesterday at a memorial ceremony for four Paris police staff stabbed to death last week by a radicalised colleague.
Mickael Harpon, a 45-year-old computer expert in the police intelligence-gathering department, used a kitchen knife and an oyster shucker to kill one female and three male colleagues in a 30-minute rampage that ended when an officer shot him in the head.
“We will wage an unrelenting fight in the face of extremist terrorism,” Macron said at the ceremony at police headquarters, where the attack took place.
The killings in the police’s inner sanctum have shocked France, where the government is being pressed to answer how Harpon’s radicalisation failed to raise red flags.
Macron said it was “inconceivable and unacceptable” that Harpon, who had worked for the police since 2003, had managed to carry out an attack “in the very place where we pursue terrorists and criminals”.
He vowed to “eradicate” and build in France a “society in a state of vigilance”.
He called on all of France to unify and act in order to overcome the ongoing threat.
But he also warned against lapsing into a climate of permanent suspicion, emphasising, “This is not a fight against a religion but against the distortion of it which leads to terrorism.”
Last Thursday’s bloodshed – the first deadly attack in France in 10 months – brought to 255 the number of people killed in a string of assaults blamed on, or claimed by extremist radicals, mainly the Islamic State (IS) group, since 2015.
The security forces have regularly been targetted.
In one of the grisliest attacks, a police couple were stabbed to death in front of their three-year-old son at their home near Paris by a man claiming allegiance to IS, who also broadcast the attack live on Facebook.