A young man arrested over the stabbing of two people in Paris on Friday is of Pakistani origin, French authorities have said.
The knife attack occurred outside the former Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Witness Kader Alfa told The AP at the scene: “I saw a guy that was in his 30s or 40s with an axe in his hand who was walking behind a victim covered in blood.”
Charlie Hebdo recently reproduced cartoons of the Muslim prophet that angered many Muslims when first published. Twelve people were killed in 2015 after the original publication.
Several alleged accomplices of the 2015 attackers are currently being tried in Paris.
“Manifestly it’s an act of Islamist terrorism,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said in an interview with public broadcaster France-2.
“Obviously, there is little doubt. It’s a new bloody attack against our country, against journalists, against this society.”
The minister said the alleged attacker arrived in France three years ago as an unaccompanied minor, apparently from Pakistan, but his identity is still being verified.
The suspected assailant had been arrested a month ago for carrying a screwdriver but was not on police radar for Islamic radicalisation.
Police say seven people have been arrested over the latest attack. Five of the arrests were made in an apartment “likely to have been used by the main suspect”, a source told CNN on Friday.
In a tweet, Charlie Hebdo strongly condemned the stabbings. “This tragic episode shows us once again that fanaticism, intolerance, the origins of which will be revealed by the investigation, are still present in French society. There is no question of ceding anything,” the magazine said.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the lives of the two wounded workers lives were not in danger. He offered the government’s solidarity with their families and colleagues.
In 2015, two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, forced their way into the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine. Armed with rifles and other weapons, they killed 12 people and injured 11 others. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to the terrorist group al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, which took responsibility for the attack. The brothers were later killed in a shoot-out with police.