Man with fake suicide belt at Paris police station attack identified as Moroccan man, reports say

By Andrew V. Pestano and Doug G. Ware  |  Updated Jan. 7, 2016 at 8:44 PM
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PARIS, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The man shot dead while trying to attack a Paris police station has been identified as a 20-year-old Moroccan man who was a supporter of the Islamic State terror group, news reports said late Thursday.

Authorities shot and killed the knife-wielding man, who officials say tried to attack an officer at a police station in the French capital while wearing what was later found to be a dummy suicide belt.

The incident occurred at about 11:30 a.m. local time Thursday outside the Goutte d'Or police station in the city's 18th arrondissement. The attacker was shot as he tried to enter the station, officials said.

The suspect was identified as Ali Sallah, a Moroccan native who investigators said was a convicted thief.

According to officials, Sallah shouted "allahu akbar" -- translating to "God is great" from Arabic -- during the assault immediately before he was shot dead. A police robot subsequently revealed that he was wearing a phony suicide belt.

Investigators also reportedly said the suspect carried a printed flag of the Islamic State and a note written in Arabic which claimed responsibility for the attack.

"I looked from my window and I saw two policemen shouting at a man who was running towards them," resident Rake Polonyi said. "When the man was two meters away from them, they shot him. He collapsed."

The attempted attack occurred on the precise anniversary of the Jan. 7, 2015 massacre at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 and wounded 11. Five more people died over the following days as the gunmen violently eluded a police manhunt. The pair of radical Islamist gunmen, French brothers, were killed in a shootout with police on Jan. 9.

French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre Henri Brandet said it appears the suspect acted alone in Thursday's assault, but added that officials could not yet rule out the possibility of accomplices.

French President Francois Hollande participated in a ceremony earlier Thursday at Paris police headquarters to observe the one-year anniversary of the event.

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