Paris, terrorism with a hammer at Notre Dame Cathedral

Farid Ikken, 40, of Algerian origin, tried to hit a policeman with a hammer. He had kitchen knives in his pocket. Hundreds of faithful and tourists immobilized in the cathedral. Olivier Roy: New Daesh terrorists are losers, isolated, without roots.

Paris (AsiaNews) - A man in his forties, who defines himself as "a soldier in the Islamic State (IS)" attacked a policeman in front of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris yesterday afternoon. His weapons: a hammer and kitchen knives in his pocket. The policeman suffered a serious blow, and one of his fellow officers shot the assailant, wounding him in the legs. At the time of the attack he reportedly shouted: "For Syria." Now the assailant is in the hospital.

Hundreds of visitors and faithful filled the cathedral at the time of the attack. Everyone was obliged to stay in the church while the police inspected the throng for other assailants. The Notre Dame cathedral, in the center of Paris, is one of the most visited monuments in the city, with about 13 million people a year. It is also an appetizing symbol for terrorism. In 2016, the French authorities had managed to dismantle a commando of jihadist women who were preparing an attack with a car bomb not far from Notre Dame.

The assailant in Notre Dame was identified as Farid Ikken, of Algerian origin, born in 1977 who arrived in France in March 2014. He is a researcher at the Lorraine University and a graduate in sociology.

Married to a Swede, a video was found in his apartment where he swore allegiance to Isis and promises to carry out attacks.

Interior Minister Gérard Collomb, speaking in the press, said that "we have now gone from a very sophisticated terrorism to terrorism where any instrument can be used to commit aggression."

Ikken lived in Cergy-Pontoise campus in recent months. People who knew him said he was "very kind, busy, quiet, polite". He lived his Islamic religion strictly, but was not known as a radical.

Law enforcement are astonished by the use of the hammer as a new offensive weapon on an armed police officer.

According to political scientist Olivier Roy, the identity of the new Daech terrorists consists of "losers, isolated, uprooted". The shortage of more professionally and ideologically prepared suicide bombers is largely due to the suffocating circle that is tightening around the IS "capitals" of Raqqa and Mosul.