Louvre museums reopens as Egypt identifies machete attacker

PARIS (AP) — The Louvre in Paris reopened to the public Saturday morning, less than 24-hours after a machete-wielding assailant shouting “Allahu Akbar!” was shot by soldiers.

Hooded police officers search a building in connection with a shooting outside at the museum in Paris, Friday Feb. 3, 2017. A knife-wielding man shouting "Allahu akbar" attacked French soldiers on patrol near the Louvre Museum Friday in what the president called a terrorist attack. (AP Photo/Greg Keller)
Hooded police officers search a building in connection with a shooting outside at the museum in Paris, Friday Feb. 3, 2017. A knife-wielding man shouting “Allahu akbar” attacked French soldiers on patrol near the Louvre Museum Friday in what the president called a terrorist attack. (AP Photo/Greg Keller)

In drizzly weather, tourists filed by armed police and soldiers outside the central Paris museum, which had been closed immediately after Friday’s attack.

The attacker was shot four times after slightly injuring a soldier patrolling the underground mall, but the attacker’s injuries are no longer in a life-threatening, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

An Egyptian interior ministry official confirmed to The Associated Press Saturday the identity of the attacker as Egyptian-born Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy, 28. The official said the initial investigation found no record of political activism, criminal activity or membership of any militant groups at home.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media. French authorities are not “at this stage” naming the suspect.

On the Twitter account of an “Abdallah El-Hamahmy,” tweets about a trip from Dubai to Paris were posted on Jan. 26. In the profile photo, Hamahmy is seen smiling and leaning calmly against a wall in a blue and white sports jacket.

In another tweet on the account written in Arabic, Hamahmy went on an angry tirade ahead of the Louvre attack, posting: “No negotiation, no compromise, no letting up, certainly no climb down, relentless war.”

In an interview with the Dubai-based news channel al-Hadath aired Saturday, Hamahmy’s father said he was shocked to learn of his son’s alleged involvement.

“All I want is to know the truth and find out whether he is dead or alive,” the father said. “I am desperate to know whether he is dead or alive.”

“This is all a scenario made up by the French government to justify the soldiers opening fire,” added the father. He denied that his son was radical or a member of any militant groups. “He is a very normal young man,” he said.

Armed police officers patrol in the courtyard of the Louvre museum near where a soldier opened fire after he was attacked in Paris, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. A knife-wielding man shouting "Allahu akbar" attacked French soldiers on patrol near the Louvre Museum Friday in what officials described as a suspected terror attack. The soldiers first tried to fight off the attacker and then opened fire, shooting him five times. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Armed police officers patrol in the courtyard of the Louvre museum near where a soldier opened fire after he was attacked in Paris, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. A knife-wielding man shouting “Allahu akbar” attacked French soldiers on patrol near the Louvre Museum Friday in what officials described as a suspected terror attack. The soldiers first tried to fight off the attacker and then opened fire, shooting him five times. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Louvre visitors expressed mixed feelings Saturday on the incident with some tourists planning to leave Paris earlier than planned.

“We heard on the news that a terrorist attack took place… We stayed at the hotel and we’re thinking about cutting our vacation in Paris short,” said Lucia Reveron from Argentina.

Others were stoic and felt safe because of the heightened security presence.

“I went around yesterday, in the evening, and security was everywhere. Even now when we arrived (at the Louvre) we were checked and it’s secure. I don’t feel any threats,” said Kurt Vellafonde from Malta.

With the spate of attacks on the country in the last couple of years many permanent residents have become resilient, even blasé.

“There have been very good security measures taken, and it does not scare me at all,” said Regine Dechivre, laughing.

“It’s the phenomena of a person a little bit disturbed. The investigation will tell us what exactly happened,” she added.

The suspect’s father said Hamahmy is married with a 7-month-old child, and in his last contact with the family said he intended to tour the city’s sites before leaving France. He sent his father a photo of himself with the Eiffel tower in the background shortly before the incident.

Hamahmy’s brother Ahmed, who works at the Health Ministry in Dubai, was interrogated for several hours by security officials in the United Arab Emirates, the father said. In Egypt, several officers from the domestic security agency visited the family home in the Nile Delta on Friday night to question family members.

The United Arab Emirates condemned the attack after a French official said the suspect was believed to have been living in the UAE.

A French soldier patrols in the courtyard of the Louvre museum in Paris, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017.  The Louvre in Paris reopened to the public Saturday morning, less than 24-hours after a machete-wielding assailant shouting "Allahu Akbar!" was shot by soldiers, in what officials described as a suspected terror attack.  (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
A French soldier patrols in the courtyard of the Louvre museum in Paris, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. The Louvre in Paris reopened to the public Saturday morning, less than 24-hours after a machete-wielding assailant shouting “Allahu Akbar!” was shot by soldiers, in what officials described as a suspected terror attack. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

UAE officials offered no comment Saturday about his possible connection to the country.

The country, which includes the Mideast commercial hub of Dubai, is a major destination for guest workers from Egypt and numerous other countries. Foreign residents outnumber native Emiratis roughly four to one.

“The UAE, while strongly condemning this hideous crime, affirms its full solidarity with the friendly French Republic in these circumstances and its support for whatever measures France may take to preserve its security and safety of its citizens and residents,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement.

France is working with the Emirates to build a branch of the Louvre in the federal capital, Abu Dhabi. The project has been repeatedly delayed and is now expected to open later this year.

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Chris Den Hond in Paris, Hamza Hendawi in Cairo and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report

 

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