A man who attacked a Paris police station last week had lived in a centre for asylum seekers in Germany, German investigators say, a finding likely to fuel criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal stance towards war refugees.
The man was shot dead by French police on Thursday after he tried to storm a police station in northern Paris brandishing a meat cleaver and wearing a fake suicide vest.
The assault took place exactly one year since the start of a series of jihadist attacks in France, marked by the killing of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine on January 7, 2015.
On Saturday, German investigators assisting the probe into the police-station attack raided an apartment at a shelter for asylum seekers in Recklinghausen, in the west of the country.
Their statement gave no other details except to say no indications were found that other attacks had been planned.
A source close to the matter said the suspect had been registered as an asylum seeker.
Attacker had ‘posed with Islamic State flag’
The news site Spiegel Online reported, meanwhile, that the man had already been classed by German police as a possible suspect after he posed at the asylum seeker centre with an Islamic State flag, but he disappeared in December.
The Welt am Sonntag newspaper said the man had drawn a symbol of the Islamic State organisation on the shelter’s wall.
He had used different names in separate registrations with German authorities, and filed for asylum using the name Walid Salihi, according to the paper.
The man had also given different nationalities at each registration, once saying he was Syrian, another time saying he was Moroccan, and on yet another occasion, Georgian.
But French investigators said the suspect appeared to have been identified by his family and was said to be a Tunisian named Tarek Belgacem.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the man was carrying a mobile phone with a German SIM card, with French media reporting that it contained several messages in Arabic, some of which were sent from Germany.
In Tunisia, a woman who claimed to be the man’s mother confirmed that he had been living in Germany but denied he had any links to extremist groups.