French prosecutors have opened a counter-terrorism investigation after an incident last night at Paris’ Eiffel Tower in which a man with a knife tried to force entry to the tourist site, a judicial source said.
The incident was initially treated as a criminal matter, but was later designated a counter-terrorism case because of the suspect’s statements to police and his apparent radicalisation, the source said.
The man, aged around 19 and with a history of psychological problems, also said he had been in contact with someone from the so-called Islamic State group who had encouraged him, the source added.
He said he wanted to attack a soldier.
The man, who was apparently alone, was “very quickly overpowered and arrested” and nobody was hurt, a statement from the company that runs the monument said.
France has been under a state of emergency since the November 2015 attacks on Paris restaurants, a concert venue and a sports stadium that left 130 people dead.
Since the first wave of terror attacks in January 2015, 239 people have been killed.
The legal source said the man with the knife, a Frenchman born in the West African state of Mauritania, had been discharged from a psychiatric hospital in July.
He was wearing a Paris Saint-Germain football shirt.
At the time of the incident the tower was lit up with the colours of the team to welcome the club’s new world-record signing, Brazilian star Neymar Jr.
The tower reopened this morning as usual.