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Louvre museums reopens as Egypt identifies machete attacker

A French soldier patrols in the courtyard of the Louvre on Saturday in Paris after it reopens to the public.
A French soldier patrols in the courtyard of the Louvre on Saturday in Paris after it reopens to the public.
Published Feb. 5, 2017

PARIS — The Louvre in Paris reopened to the public Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after a machete-wielding assailant shouting "Allahu Akbar!" or "God is great!" was shot by soldiers.

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 on 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.

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.

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