France: National homage for police official stabbed at work

PARIS (AP) — France held a national ceremony Friday to honor a police official who was stabbed to death inside her police station in what authorities say was an Islamic extremist attack.

The attack stunned the quiet town of Rambouillet, southwest of Paris, where the police official was killed a week ago, and where Prime Minister Jean Castex led Friday’s ceremony alongside top government and police officials. The suspected assailant was shot and killed by police.

“Your colleague was assassinated because she was serving her country, because she was in the service of France,” Castex said.

“This fanaticism has declared war on us, but it is a cowardly war,” the prime minister said. He called on the French to “immediately unite and find an additional determination to prevent these tragedies, to protect our fellow citizens again and always.”

The victim, unarmed administrative employee Stephanie Monferme, was stabbed as she returned to the station after extending the time on her parking space.

It was the latest of multiple attacks in recent years targeting French police. The national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office took over the investigation of the April 23 stabbing, but has released only limited information about the assailant’s suspected links to extremism.

The chief prosecutor said that the Tunisian-born suspect, identified as Jamel G., had no criminal record or evidence of radicalization, and said investigators are trying to determine whether other people or groups helped or inspired him. The prosecutor said the suspect had listened to religious songs inciting to “jihad” just before the attack, and witnesses heard him say “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” during the attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s government has been increasing police powers amid voter concerns about security. The government presented a new counterterrorism and intelligence bill Wednesday that had been planned before last week’s attack.

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