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On Anniversary Of Attack In Paris, Police Shoot Threatening Suspect


One year ago today, gunmen stormed the Paris office of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and began a three-day killing spree that would claim 17 lives. French President Francois Hollande marked the day by speaking to French security forces. He told them France's war with terror has not ended. And an incident this morning in Paris has added to the gravity of the day. Much is still unclear about what happened. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley is in Paris on the line with us now. Good morning.


MONTAGNE: A man - this much we know - a man has been killed by police outside a police station in the city. Tell us what else we know.

BEARDSLEY: Well, this man ran - tried to run into the police precinct. He was carrying a hatchet. Witnesses said he may have yelled Allahu akbar in Arabic, which means God is great, and that he may have been wearing an explosive belt. But now the bomb squads have come in, the man has been killed, and that explosive belt was fake. But what is ironic, Renee, is as you said - it happened at about the same time that the French president was at another police precinct, you know, honoring the police who have served this country for the last year, you know, tirelessly, and the victims of that attack on January 7 a year ago. And, you know, just on the same anniversary, someone storms into another police precinct. It just shows how jittery people are and how worried everyone is about follow-on attacks. And everything is being taken seriously right now. This whole neighborhood is in lockdown. Children are being kept in schools and traffic's off the streets. And they don't know if this is one lone crazy guy, or maybe he was part of a group, but we'll wait to find out.

MONTAGNE: And just once again, this is the anniversary of those Charlie Hebdo attacks. And add in last month's much more deadly attack in Paris - many have said that 2015 was the deadliest year there since World War II. So, you know, beyond people being hunkered down, what else are they saying today.

BEARDSLEY: Yeah, absolutely, Renee. Well, France is facing some serious issues now. People are saying the country has changed - I don't know if for good, but for many years to come - about security. The government wants to change, modify the French constitution to sort of write in a clause that can let the president impose the state of emergency when it's needed. There's a serious threat. There's been blood on French streets. And so as France faces these serious issues - how to, you know, increase security while keeping, you know, liberties and freedoms because France is known for that - you've got - now they have to take every little incident seriously. So everything is changed. Now, some incident like this a couple of years ago might've been nothing - a man with a hatchet, one crazy guy. But now everything is being taken seriously. So people are exhausted. The police are exhausted. The French government wants to give police new powers. I mean, everything seems to be changing in France right now.

MONTAGNE: Well, yeah, just briefly, President Hollande - you mentioned he wants to increase his powers. Check off just a couple of things he'd like to do, if he could.

BEARDSLEY: Well, the police cannot fire unless they're being fired upon. Hollande wants them to be able to use their weapons in other cases aside from self-defense, and also to be able to keep their weapons at home when they're off-duty. So things that have never happened before are now being considered, and what was, you know, right-wing political domains and left-wing are now blurring as the whole country comes together to increase security.

MONTAGNE: Well, Eleanor, thank you very much.

BEARDSLEY: Good to be with you, Renee. That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, speaking to us from Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.

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