France terror attack: 47-year-old ‘decapitated’ in Paris suburb named as teacher Samuel Paty

The teacher killed in a suburb of Paris in an Islamist terror attack was a teacher named Samuel Paty, Sky News has confirmed.

Mr Paty, 47, was “assassinated”, France’s president has said.

The history teacher, who is said to have discussed images of the Prophet Muhammad with his pupils, was beheaded, it has been reported.

The suspected attacker was shot dead about 600 metres from the scene, according to the AP news agency.

It happened on a street in Conflans Sainte-Honorine, northwest of the French capital, at about 5pm local time.

Visiting the scene, Emmanuel Macron called it a “cowardly attack”, saying that the man was a “victim of an Islamist terrorist attack” and was killed because he “taught the freedom of expression, of believing and not believing”.

The president said France would “protect and defend” its teachers.

Emmanuel Macron

According to Le Parisien newspaper, the attacker was an 18-year-old man of Chechen origin, who was carrying a knife.

Sky’s Adam Parsons, who is at the scene, says he was not thought to be on any watchlist.

He is believed to have been shot after he refused to put down his gun.

A video of his last moments is thought to feature the sounds of the gun being fired, followed by a volley of shots as he was killed.

A gun was found at his side. Reports say it was an airsoft gun that fired plastic pellets.

The country’s anti-terror prosecutor earlier called the incident a stabbing, but both the Reuters and AP news agencies said police sources told them the victim was decapitated.

Witnesses heard the attacker shout “Allahu Akbar”, or God is great, Reuters said.

France’s anti-terrorism prosecutors have said nine suspects have also been arrested, including the grandparents, parents and 17-year-old brother of the attacker.

Mr Paty reportedly showed images of the Prophet Muhammad in class during a discussion about freedom of expression on 5 October.

A complaint was made and the teacher was later spoken to by police.

The suspect did not have a child at the school, AP said.

A Twitter thread posted last Friday alleged pupils had been shown cartoons of the prophet.

However, a parent of one of the teacher’s pupils said he asked Muslim students to raise their hands and to leave the classroom before they were taught about the image.

She said: “My son understood right away – the evening he came home, he understood right away that it was not to discriminate.

“He told me, no it was not to offend us, it was images that he didn’t want us to see. My son understood that at no moment he (teacher) had lacked respect.”

Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer tweeted that the republic had been attacked through the “despicable assassination of one of its servants”.

He added that “unity and firmness are the only answers to the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism”.

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab tweeted to express the government’s solidarity with France, saying: “My thoughts are with the people of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine this evening following reports of a truly horrific attack. The UK stands in solidarity with France at this time.”

It is the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of an ongoing trial on the newsroom massacre in January 2015 at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo after the publication of caricatures of the prophet of Islam.

As the trial opened, the paper republished caricatures of the prophet to underscore the right of freedom of expression.

Exactly three weeks ago, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing, outside the newspaper’s former offices, two people who suffered non life-threatening injuries.

The 18-year-old told police he was upset about the publication of the caricatures.

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