Terror Attack in Southern France
24 Mar 2018
President Emmanuel Macron has stated that France has suffered an “Islamist terrorist attack”. The attack underlines the global reach of the Islamic State and the continuance of radicalisation throughout France. The attacker took hostages within a supermarket in Trèbes, the assailant was killed following an operation led by security forces.
- President Emmanuel Macron has stated that France has suffered an “Islamist terrorist attack”.
- The attack underlines the global reach of the Islamic State and the continuance of radicalisation throughout France.
- The attacker took hostages within a supermarket in Trèbes, the assailant was killed following an operation led by security forces.
Terrorism: During the morning hours of 23 March, three attacks occurred in the south of France. The attacker, Redouane Lakdim, is a Moroccan-born French national who lived in Carcassonne and was known by French intelligence services as a potential sympathiser to Salafi-jihadist ideology. At around 10:30 local time in Carcassonne, Lakdim hijacked a car and killed one passenger and injured the driver. He then opened fire onto jogging police officers, injuring one and fleeing the scene of the incident. The assailant then drove around eight kilometres east to the small town of Trèbes, where he entered a Super U supermarket, shouting “I am a soldier of Daesh” and “Allahu Akbar”. He then proceeded to shoot at civilians and took hostages. Many civilians managed to escape the supermarket although one woman was used as a human shield. A police officer volunteered to swap with the female hostage, leaving his mobile phone on a table nearby with an open line, enabling police to monitor the situation. After hearing gunshots over the phone, an elite special forces team were deployed and later entered the supermarket, killing the suspect. A relation of Lakdim has been arrested following the operation. In total, four people were killed in the attack, and sixteen others wounded.
SOLACE GLOBAL COMMENT
This attack underlines the continued influence of the Islamic State across Europe and particularly France. The country remains on high alert since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015. Lakdim claimed allegiance to Islamic State and has been reported to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” prior to the incidents. Islamic State have also claimed responsibility for the attack. Authorities have released little information regarding the attacker although French intelligence services were aware of his potential links with jihadist enterprises. It is believed that Lakdim was radicalised via cyber and personal networks. Some reports have suggested the assailant travelled to Syria, presumably to receive operational training and support the Islamic State’s endeavours in the region. Such a journey would explain the assailant’s claim that he was defending his “brothers” in Syria, and the demand for the immediate release of Salah Abdesalam; a terrorist involved in the 2015 Bataclan attacks who is currently on trial in Brussels. The assailant was heavily armed, highlighting the accessibility of high powered weapons and capability to traffic them across Europe’s open borders. The nature of the attack suggests it was to cause disruption to coincide with Abdesalam’s trial.
Exposure to jihadi ideology in-country and abroad are clear factors that motivated the attack. Lakdim was active on Salafist social networks on the Internet. Such channels enable users to be continually exposed to propaganda and like-minded individuals that may offer tactical advice or encourage violent attacks. Tactical similarities and demands for prisoner releases indicates a link between the Paris attacks and the incidents in southern France on 23 March. Many attackers in Europe and the United States have been radicalised with similar materials and methods. The leap from sympathiser to attacker as a lone wolf is a concerning trend within western democracies.
Travellers should be aware of an increased security presence in France, especially in the Carcassonne-TrÃ¨bes area. President Macron has already stated that the country has witnessed a terrorist attack. Traffic disruptions have already been noted as well as increased security patrols. Travellers should expect security to be further heightened in this region as the investigation is undertaken.
If caught in a terror situation, travellers are advised to RUN â HIDE â TELL â FIGHT. RUN â If in a location where gunfire or explosions are heard, leave the area or building by any safe and available exit immediately. HIDE â If unable to run away, find suitable cover or barricade yourself in a room. Remember to silence your phone and turn vibrate off. TELL â Inform emergency services or alert someone who is able to do it for you. Once police arrive, comply with their instructions and do not make any sudden movements. FIGHT â As a last resort, if confronted with a gunman, it is recommended to fight back by using the element of surprise by shouting, screaming and running fast at the attacker. If sheltered with others, convince them to do the same and rush the attacker all at once. Ensure the person entering the shelter is the attacker and not law enforcement.
Solace Global would not advise clients of the need to employ enhanced security measures when visiting France. Travellers are advised to use travel-tracking technology with an intelligence feed. This will enable a traveller to be alerted of any security updates within their vicinity, and to update others of their location in case of an emergency.
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