03/02/2017 3:08 PM IST | Updated 03/02/2017 9:29 PM IST

French Soldier Opens Fire After Man Tries To Enter Louvre Museum With A Suitcase

A man wielding a machete who attacked a soldier at Paris’s Louvre museum is a “terrorist in nature” France’s Prime Minister said on Friday.

The attacker shouted “Allahu akbar” as he tried to get into the museum’s underground shop, local police said.

Police have not yet named the man, who was seriously injured after being shot by a French soldier five times.

The Louvre is set to reopen tomorrow.

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A man stands near the Louvre museum on February 3, 2017 in Paris after a soldier has shot and gravely injured a man who tried to attack him

It is alleged the man had attacked another soldier before being shot. The soldier is believed to be suffering from light wounds.

“We are dealing with an attack from an individual who was clearly aggressive and represented a direct threat, and whose comments lead us to believe that he wished to carry out a terrorist incident,” Cadot said on Friday, Reuters reports.

“There was also a second individual who was behaving suspiciously, who has also been detained, but for now there does not appear to be a link between that individual and the attack,” added Cadot.

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A French soldier stands guard near the Louvre.

Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the attack was clearly “terrorist in nature”.

Police have said the Louvre attacker was carrying two backpacks, but neither had explosives. Earlier reports suggested he was carrying a suitcase.

A police union official said the man launched himself at the soldiers when they told him that he could not take his bags into the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall underneath the world-famous museum where the “Mona Lisa” hangs and which went into emergency lock-down, the Associated Press reports.

“That’s when he got the knife out and that’s when he tried to stab the soldier,” said the official, Yves Lefebvre.

The four soldiers first tried to fight off the attacker before opening fire, said Benoit Brulon, a spokesman for the military force that patrols Paris and its major tourist attractions.

President Francois Hollande praised the troops’ “courage and determination.”

Restaurant worker Sanae Hadraoui, 32, was waiting for breakfast at the Louvre’s restaurant complex when she heard the first gunshot, followed by another and then a couple more.

“I hear a shot. Then a second shot. Then maybe two more. I hear people screaming, “Evacuate. Evacuate.”

“They told us to evacuate. I told my colleagues at the McDonald’s. We went downstairs and then took the emergency exit.”

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French police officers and soldiers patrol in front of the Louvre museum.
ALAIN JOCARD via Getty Images
French police officers patrol near the Louvre museum.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said about 1,000 people were inside and were held in safe areas before the all-clear was given.

Speaking outside the Louvre, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said terrorism threatens all of the world’s big cities and “there is not a single one escaping that menace”.

The museum is one of Paris’ most popular tourist destinations. 

France has had an increased police presence following terror attacks in the country in 2015 and 2016.