Grisly Beheading of Teacher in Terror Attack Rattles France

For the second time in three weeks, horror has hit France, this time with the horrific decapitation of a history teacher on a street in the suburbs of Paris. The alleged attacker has been shot and killed by the police.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned what he called an "Islamist terrorist attack" and called on the nation to stand together against extremism. The teacher addressed the caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said, reports AP.

The French anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation into the murder with a possible terrorist motive. Four people, one a woman, were detained hours later, according to anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard. Police usually fan out to locate families and associates of possible victims in terror cases.

Macron visited the school where the teacher worked in the town of Conflans-Saint-Honorine and met with the workers after the murder. An Associated Press reporter saw three ambulances on the scene, and a heavily armed police force surrounded the area, and police vans lined up leafy streets nearby.

"One of our compatriots was murdered today because he taught ... the freedom of expression, the freedom to believe or not believe," Macron said.

He said the attack shouldn't divide France because that's what the extremists want. "We must stand all together as citizens," he said.

The incident occurred while Macron's government is working on a bill to counter the Islamist extremists that the authorities say are building a parallel society beyond the French Republic 's values. France has the largest Muslim community in Western Europe, with up to 5 million members, and Islam is the No. 2 religion of the world.

A police officer said that the attacker, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun — which shoot plastic pellets — was shot dead some 600 meters away from where the male teacher was killed after he refused to respond to orders to lay down his weapons and behaved in a threatening manner.

The teacher received threats after opening a "Discussion" discussion about caricatures about 10 days ago, the police officer told The Associated Press. The student's parent lodged a lawsuit against the teacher, another police officer said, noting that the alleged killer did not have a child at school.

The ID card was found on the scene, but the police confirmed the identification, the police officer said. The French media claimed that the suspect was an 18-year-old Chechen, who was born in Moscow. This knowledge could not be verified immediately.

In recent months, France has seen sporadic violence involving its Chechen community in the Dijon region, the Mediterranean city of Nice and the western town of Saint-Dizier, suspected to be connected to local criminal activity.

It was not known what relationship, if any, the attacker could have with the instructor, or if he had accomplices. Police searched the homes and possible relatives and associates of the man in question, the police officer said.

The two officials could not be designated because they were not permitted to discuss pending investigations.

"We didn't see this coming," Conflans resident Remi Tell, who as a child had attended the Bois D'Aulne middle school, said on CNews TV station. He described the town as peaceful.

It was the second terrorist attack since the opening of the January 2015 newsroom massacre in the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published caricatures of the prophet of Islam.

As the trial started, the paper republished caricatures of the prophet to underscore the right of freedom of expression. Quickly, a young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing two people with a meat cleaver outside the newspaper's former offices. They did not suffer threatening injuries. The 18-year-old told police he was upset about the publication of the caricatures.

In a video posted recently on social media, a man describing himself as a father at the school said the teacher who was slain had recently shown an offensive image of a man and told students it was "the prophet of the Muslims." Before showing the images, the teacher asked Muslim children to leave the room because he planned to show something shocking, the man said.

"What was the message he wanted to send these children? ... Why does a history teacher behave this way in front of 13-year-olds?" the man asked. He called on other angry parents to contact him, and relay the message.

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