French police have shot a man who attacked an officer with a hammer outside Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The assailant, later found to be also armed with kitchen knives, was brought down as he threatened passersby outside one of the French capital’s busiest tourist attractions on Tuesday afternoon.
Hundreds of people took refuge in the cathedral and nearby cafes as more than 100 police officers rushed to the scene.
The French interior minister, Gérard Collomb, said the attacker, whose ID suggests he is an Algerian student, was carrying “rudimentary weapons” and shouted “this is for Syria” as he hit the 22-year-old police officer.
The minister visited the prefecture of police, 50 metres from the scene of the attack, to talk to officers involved in the incident. He said the man approached a police patrol from behind at about 4.20pm on Tuesday, took a hammer out of his backpack and hit one of the officers in the head.
“His colleague reacted with sang-froid and fired to ensure the attacked officer was not further injured,” Collomb said. “I understand the police officer was only slightly injured but it could have been much worse if their colleague had not reacted so quickly. The attacker was injured and we are waiting for the prognostic.
“Once again the police and forces of security, in our country like other countries in Europe, are vicitim of an attack in the name of a criminal ideology. We see here we have passed from a sophisticated terrorism to one where the most ordinary tools can be used.
“The attacker is thought to be an Algerian student, carrying a card that we have to verify authenticity – that’s all we know right now.”
Collomb said the government was considering renewing the state of emergency, in place since the bombings and shootings in Paris in November 2015 that left 130 dead.
“The fight against terrorism is a priority for the president of the republic,” he said, adding that a defence meeting would be held at the Élysée Palace on Wednesday morning.
The attack came just three days after three knife-wielding men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing people at restaurants and bars near Borough Market, leaving seven people dead.
The Notre-Dame incident was the latest in a series of attacks on French police and soldiers. One officer was shot dead by a gunman on the Champs Élysées in April.
In February, an Egyptian man caused panic near the Louvre when he ran at soldiers with a machete. A month later, a suspected Islamist terrorist wrestled a soldier to the ground and grabbed their gun as they patrolled Orly airport, before being shot dead.
In January 2015, a day after the attack on the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, a police officer was killed by a gunman who later took hostages in a Jewish supermarket, killing four.
In June 2016, a French police officer and his wife, who worked for the interior ministry, were murdered in their home in front of their toddler son in an attack claimed by Islamic State.
French anti-terrorist investigators have opened an inquiry into Tuesday’s attack.