France has been rocked by a series of terror attacks occurring just days apart as a new poll shows that increasing numbers of French citizens no longer feel safe anywhere in their own country. The attacks come after France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault claimed there was “no connection” between Islam and terrorism while on a state visit to Indonesia.
On March 16th, 2017 an envelope bomb sent to the offices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Paris exploded after it was opened, injuring an IMF staff member. Authorities were said to be investigating the incident for any connection to an explosive package that had been sent to the German Finance Ministry the day before. The same day, a 17 year old armed with a rifle, two pistols and hand grenades injured three in an attack at Tocqueville high school in Grasse, France. The best friend of the shooter was arrested in the aftermath of the incident. The UK’s Foreign Office subsequently issued a high terror warning to British nationals in France “due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist terrorist groups, and recent French military intervention against Daesh.” The French government also extended the country’s state of emergency until July 15, 2017, the fifth such extension since the Paris terror attacks in November 2015.
On March 17th, 2017, French news source Le Figaro a man slit the throats of a father and son in Paris before sitting and quietly waiting for authorities to arrive. Both Le Figaro and Le Parisien cited witness and police sources who stated that the attacker shouted the Takbir (“Allahu Akbar or Arabic phrase meaning “God is great”) during the incident, though police officials called for caution in “speculating over the motive” for the double murder. The next day, a man was shot by police at Orly airport in Paris after trying to seize an officer’s pistol. The individual was known to security forces, had shot at a police officer in Northern Paris earlier that day and was a radicalized Muslim on a security watchlist. The BBC’s report on the incident neglected to mention the attacker’s name, nationality and history of radicalization in an apparent attempt to conceal his ties to Islamic extremism. In the midst of the week’s terror, a March 2017 poll conducted by IFOP-Fiducial found that 6 out of 10 French citizens no longer feel safe anywhere in the country, and 69% felt that French police and gendarmerie were understaffed. 55% said they would like to see France exit the EU’s open border Schengen zone.
The spree of attacks are followed by reports from French journalists on March 19th that riots which plagued the country for several weeks have broken out again, with videos showing protestors hurling molotov cocktails and flares at police forces.