Anti-terrorism officials have taken over investigations into the deadly knife attack at the police headquarters in Paris, state prosecutors in the French capital confirmed to dpa on Friday.

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The decision was made based on investigators’ previous findings.

On Thursday, a Paris police employee killed four colleagues at the city’s police headquarters with a knife before being shot dead by another policeman.

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It had been widely reported by French media that the assailant, a 45-year-old man employed at police headquarters since 2003, had converted to Islam within the last two years.

However, government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye warned against drawing any conclusions from the widely reported fact and said there was no sign so far that the employee had been motivated by extremism.

“The fact that someone converts to Islam is not an automatic sign of radicalisation,” Ndiaye told broadcaster France Info, warning about fake news that has circulated on social media.

“The facts have to be looked at precisely. That’s what the investigative services are currently doing,’’ Ndiaye said, adding that a terrorist motive is of course not ruled out.”

According to French media, the man, who had who worked in IT support for the  headquarter’s intelligence division, was originally from the French Caribbean island of Martinique.

France Info and other media reported that his wife, who has been held for questioning, had told investigators that he had had visions and heard voices the night before the attack.

Police held a minute of silence inside the imposing headquarters building, across a square from Notre Dame Cathedral, on Friday.

“This tragedy is all the more terrible because it took place inside the Police Prefecture and because it was perpetrated by one of us,’’ police chief Didier Lallement later said.

The attacker, like all other staff in the intelligence division, had undergone a high level of security screening, he added during a brief press conference.

Lallement defended security arrangements at the police headquarters, saying they had not failed but were intended to prevent attacks coming from outside or from members of the public.

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The assailant had been shot down by a policeman on guard who was freshly graduated from training school and had only been posted there six days earlier, he added.

“Faced with this tragedy, I simply want to say that we stand together,“ Lallement said, promising that day to day security and the policing of demonstrations this weekend would not be affected.(NAN)



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