World

Man shot after attacking Louvre museum security

PARIS: A machete-wielding man who yelled "Allahu Akbar (God is greatest)" was shot and injured as he attacked security forces at the Louvre museum in Paris yesterday, police said.

One soldier was injured by the knifeman, who was shot five times, suffering serious injuries.

The two backpacks he was carrying did not contain explosives, city police chief Michel Cadot said.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called the attack, which caused streets around the museum to be sealed off, "terrorist in nature".

The shooting comes with France on its highest state of alert, with thousands of troops patrolling the capital following a string of attacks in the last few years.

Soldiers carrying automatic rifles are regularly seen walking in the area around the Louvre.

The former royal palace in the heart of Paris is home to the Mona Lisa and other renowned works of art, but is also a shopping complex and numerous exhibition spaces.

'SECURE AREAS'

"The people who were in the museum - there were about 250 of them - were held at a distance and confined in secure areas of the Louvre," Mr Cadot said.

France has suffered a string of attacks in recent years, beginning in January 2015 when jihadist gunmen killed journalists at the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper in Paris in revenge for publishing cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.

Ten months later, gunmen and suicide bombers from the Islamic State group attacked bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national stadium in Paris, killing 130.

Last July, a Tunisian extremist rammed a lorry through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, crushing 86 people to death.

The Louvre was already suffering from a fall in visitor numbers after the series of attacks in France.

Numbers are down about two million, casting doubt on its claim to be the most visited museum in the world.

Last year, there was a 15 per cent slump in visitors compared to 2015, to around 7.3 million. - AFP

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