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France: Possible newspaper attack suspect arrested

November 20, 2013
Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — French police arrested a man Wednesday night believed to be the suspect in a Paris newspaper office shooting that left a photographer gravely wounded and in other attacks that triggered a two-day nationwide manhunt, authorities said.

The motive for the attacks remains unclear.

Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, a spokeswoman for the French prosecutor's office, said that "a suspect with a strong resemblance to the shooter" was arrested in an underground parking lot in Bois-Colombes, 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Paris.

She and police union official Christophe Crepin said the man appeared heavily medicated when he was detained. Crepin and French media said he was taken to a nearby hospital, though the prosecutor's office could not confirm that.

"My colleagues noticed he was not very lucid. They deduced that he had taken medicines, because of the capsules nearby. They called the ambulance, which brought him to the hospital. There he is incarcerated but in a medical environment," Crepin told The Associated Press.

Authorities believed a lone gunman was involved in Monday's shooting at the prominent daily newspaper Liberation, a shooting outside French bank Societe Generale, a brief hostage-taking in which the suspect hijacked a car, and a similar shooting incident three days before at news network BFM-TV.

Authorities released video footage and photos of the shooter who was wielding a pump-action shotgun.

The shooting prompted cries of concern about attacks on the media. The culture minister called Liberation — an outspoken left-leaning paper founded by Jean-Paul Sartre that has seen financial difficulties and layoffs in recent years — a "pillar of our democracy."

Security was tightened at media offices and on the busy Champs-Elysees shopping avenue.

In a sign of the jumpy mood, police in the southern town of Perigueux upped security at schools, churches and public buildings Wednesday after an armed man was spotted in the street. Police later said he had nothing to do with the Paris attacks.

The gunman entered the lobby of Liberation around 10 a.m. Monday and opened fire. A 23-year-old photographer, who works at the paper as a freelance assistant, was in intensive care after being shot near the heart and in the arm.

Less than two hours after the shooting at Liberation, three shots were fired in front of the headquarters of the bank Societe Generale in the Paris suburb of La Defense, according to Paris police. Societe Generale said no one was hurt.

Less than an hour later, a man called police to say he had been taken hostage by a gunman in the town of Puteaux, next door to La Defense. Police said the gunman forced his hostage to drive six kilometers (3 1/2 miles) back toward central Paris, then let him go on the Champs-Elysees.

Three days before at BFM-TV, an armed man threatened journalists with a shotgun in the news network's lobby before fleeing.

He left behind unused cartridges, and told witnesses, "Next time, I won't miss," according to authorities. It was unclear whether the gunman's weapon malfunctioned or whether he chose not to shoot.

 
 

 

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