Officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man wearing a fake explosives vest outside a police station in northern Paris on Thursday, French officials said, a year to the day since an attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo launched a bloody year in the French capital.
France has been under a state of emergency since a series of attacks claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) killed 130 people in Paris on Nov. 13, and tensions increased this week as the anniversary of the January attacks approached. Soldiers were posted in front of schools and security forces were even more present than usual amid a series of tributes to the dead.
Officials said the man shot to death Thursday wore a fake explosive vest and threatened officers at the entrance of a police station minutes after French president Francois Hollande, speaking in a different location, paid respects to officers fallen in the line of duty. The man was carrying a paper printout emblem of ISIL, police said.
Alexis Mukenge, who saw the shooting from inside another building, told the network iTele that police told the man, "Stop. Move back." Mukenge said officers fired twice and the man immediately dropped to the ground.
The Goutte d'Or neighborhood in Paris' 18th arrondissement, a multi-ethnic district not far from the Gare du Nord train station, was locked down, as were two metro lines running through the area, though they later reopened.
Police expanded their security cordon about an hour after the attack, swiftly and roughly clearing out hundreds who had gathered at a subway station and along nearby streets. Shops were ordered shuttered along neighboring streets, and shop owners hastily rolled down metal shutters.
Neighborhood resident Nora Borrias was unable to get home because of the barricades. Shaken by the incident, she said "it's like the Charlie Hebdo affair isn't over."
Hollande had said earlier that what he called a "terrorist threat" would continue to weigh on France. The government has announced new measures extending police powers to allow officers to use their weapons to "neutralize someone who has just committed one or several murders and is likely to repeat these crimes."
On Jan. 7, 2015, two French-born brothers killed 11 people at the building where Charlie Hebdo operated, as well as a Muslim policeman outside. Over the next two days, an accomplice shot a policewoman to death and then stormed a kosher supermarket, killing four hostages. A total of 17 people died, as did all three gunmen.
Hollande especially called for better surveillance of "radicalized" citizens who have joined ISIL or other insurgent groups in Syria and Iraq when they return to France.
"We must be able to force these people —and only these people— to fulfill certain obligations and if necessary to put them under house arrest ... because they are dangerous," he said.
Hollande said officers die in the line of duty "so that we can live free."
Following the January attacks, the government announced it planned to give police better equipment and hire more intelligence agents.
France has been on high alert ever since, and was struck again Nov. 13 by extremists in attacks that killed 130 people at a concert hall and in bars and restaurants.
Survivors of the January attacks, meanwhile, are continuing to speak out.
Cartoonist Laurent Sourisseau, the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, who is known as Riss, told France Inter radio "security is a new expense for the newspaper budget."
"This past year we've had to invest nearly 2 million euros to secure our office, which is an enormous sum," he said. "We have to spend hundreds of thousands on surveillance of our offices, which wasn't previously in Charlie's budget, but we had an obligation so that employees feel safe and can work safely."
After the attacks, people around the world embraced the expression "Je suis Charlie" to express solidarity with the slain journalists, targeted for the paper's caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
"It's a phrase that was used during the march as a sign of emotion or resistance to terrorism," Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Corinne Rey — known as Coco — told France Inter radio. "And little by little, I realized that 'I am Charlie' was misused for so many things. And now I don't really know what it means."
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press