The Louvre Museum in Paris and Versailles Palace evacuated tourists and staff Saturday in response to bomb threats, as the French government deployed thousands of solidiers to increase security a day after a French teacher was stabbed by a suspected Islamist terrorist.
Written bomb threats send to Paris police led to alarms evacuating visitors and staff from the Louvre and the underground shopping center beneath its pyramid.
Police searched the home of the Mona Lisa, which sees between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors per day.
The royal Palace of Versailles was also evacuated after threats. One of Paris’s biggest train stations, Gare de Lyon, was also emptied after a possible explosive was found. afternoon local time due to a bomb threat, according to reports.
The threats appeared as tensions rose in France following the fatal Islamist stabbing at a school in Arras on Friday, when a Chechen immigrant on the country’s extremist watchlist stabbed a teacher to death and severely wounded three other adults at a school.
Authorities believe the attack is linked to Israel’s war with Hamas.
France has publicly supported Israel since the brutal Oct. 7 terror attack that started the fighting.
Prosecutors said the alleged assailant was a former student at Gambetta-Carnot school in the northern city of Arras and repeatedly shouted “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” during the attack.
France President Emmanuel Macron denounced the attack as an act of “Islamist terror” and ordered up to 7,000 soldiers to be deployed throughout the county to boost security.
Arras has large Jewish and Muslim populations.
“This school was struck by the barbarity of Islamist terrorism,” Macron said after a visit there, The Times of Israel reported.
Macron said the dead educator – identified as Dominique Bernard — “probably saved many lives” by trying to block the attacker. Bernard was stabbed in the throat and chest.
The wounded included a school security agent who was stabbed multiple times and is fighting for his life, a teacher and a cleaner who were both in less serious condition, according to anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard.
No students were hurt.
The suspected attacker, Mohammed Moguchkov, who is in his 20s, was arrested and several others are in custody.
His exact motive remains unclear, and he is reportedly refusing to speak to investigators.
However, French intelligence suggested a link between the war in the Middle East and the suspect’s decision to attack, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
He said authorities have detained 12 people near schools or places of worship in France since last week’s Hamas attack on Israel, some of whom were armed and were preparing to act.
France also heightened security at hundreds of Jewish sites around the country this week.
Prosecutors are considering charges of terrorism-related murder and attempted murder against the suspect.
Moguchkov had been under recent surveillance by intelligence services for radicalization.
Court documents viewed by The Associated Press show he is from the Ingushetia region in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains, which neighbors Chechnya.
Some schoolchildren, parents and personnel returned to the Gambetta-Carnot school as it reopened Saturday morning.
Classes were canceled, but the school reopened under police guard for those who wanted to come together or seek support.
One mother said she came with her 17-year-old daughter in a show of defiance against extremism, and to overcome the fear of returning to a site where children were locked down for hours after the stabbing.
Another mother came to seek guidance from counselors about how to support her two sons, who witnessed the attack in their schoolyard.
“As adults, we are managing with difficulty to take a step back, but for them, they’re children,’’ said Emily Noge, arriving at the school with her sons and partner.
“They initially thought it was an exercise, so keeping things separate, to say that we’ve passed from an exercise to something dramatic, is very tricky for them.”
‘’It’s always the same moments that come back: The schoolyard, the chairs to protect themselves, the stabbings, the whys. ‘Why us? Why Arras? Why the teachers? They were good teachers. They were there to protect us,’” she said.
For many in France, the attack echoed the killing of another teacher, Samuel Paty, almost exactly three years ago near his Paris area school.
He was beheaded by a radicalized Chechen later killed by police.