Three soldiers guarding a Jewish community center in Nice, in the South of France, were attacked by a man wielding a knife on Tuesday afternoon. The man, who had concealed the 20-cm. long knife in his bag, attacked one of the soldiers, injuring him in the chin. He then slashed at two other soldiers, hurting one in the cheek and the other in the forearm before being captured by a shop worker, tram workers and riot police positioned near the building.
The center is home to the local Jewish radio station and the offices of several Jewish communal organizations.
Mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi said that the attacker had an identity card with him bearing the name Moussa Coulibaly. (That surname is fairly common in Mali and is the same name as the terrorist who killed four people in the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris in January.) Apparently, Tuesday’s attacker has a criminal record for theft and violence. It is not yet clear what the motive of the attack was.
A French security official is reported to have said that the attacker had been sent home from Turkey last week by authorities after having flown in on a one-way ticket. There is a concern that people arriving this way are planning to join up with Islamist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq, both of which share borders with Turkey. The French and Turkish police had cooperated to pick up Coulibaly and return him to France, but there was not enough evidence, it seems, to press charges against him.
Mayor Estrosi told French media that a possible accomplice was arrested.