French soldiers were stabbed Tuesday while protecting a Jewish community center in the nation’s southern city of Nice. Two of the three military guards sustained wounds to the face and arm, according to international media.
The condition of the two soldiers is not known.
The attack occurred in the center of the city, outside the ‘Consistoire Insraelite de Nice’ Jewish center, French police union spokesperson Sarah Baron said. Radio Shalom, a Jewish radio station, is also located in the building as well as another Jewish organization.
One of the attackers was captured and taken into custody, but two other terrorists are believed to have escaped.
The armed attacker carried an identity card that named him as Moussa Coulibaly, age 30, Baron said. Security sources added that Coulibaly, allegedly a Muslim, has a record of arrests for assault and theft.
Some 10,000 French troops are deployed throughout the country at present in order to protect landmarks, iconic institutions and Jewish sites from possible attacks by radical Islamic terrorists.
The move came in the wake of a three-day series of terror attacks by homegrown operatives from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) who had trained abroad but returned to France to kill. (Although the name “Coulibaly” is common in France, it is worth noting that one of the ISIS operatives killed during last month’s week of terror was Amedy Coulibaly.)
The joint terror attacks were aimed at the staff of the Charlie Hebdo French satiric weekly magazine and a list of Jewish targets — all in the Paris area — including the Hyper Cacher kosher grocery. One of the listed targets, a Jewish elementary school, was miraculously bypassed when the terror cell was interrupted on the way to the attack by a traffic accident. When a policewoman approached the terrorists’ vehicle to investigate the accident, the attackers shot and killed her to avoid detection of the myriad ammunition and arms that were piled in the car. As the sun set that Friday eve and the Jewish Sabbath began, a total of 17 people had died in the attacks and more were being treated for wounds, physical and psychological.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced two weeks after the attacks that the government would increase the country’s counter terrorist forces by 2,600 and equip its police forces with “stronger weapons.” He also said authorities would begin tracking nearly 3,000 French citizens with jihadist ties.
Earlier today seven men and a woman also were arrested in connection with an alleged plan to travel abroad to join the ISIS terror organization in Syria and Iraq.
Last week French President Francois Hollande told Jewish citizens in a speech to commemorate the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz that, “France is your homeland; your place is here.” He vowed to defend French Jews and combat the “unbearable” rising anti-Semitism in France, saying said the country would protect “all its children and tolerate no insult, no outrage, no desecration.”Hana Levi Julian