Paris' Notre-Dame's assailant reportedly said, 'This is for Syria'

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POLICE shot a man who attacked an officer with a hammer outside France's Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

Police sealed off the area in front of the cathedral, where the attacker lay injured on the ground.

The motive for the attack was not immediately clear.

In addition to the hammer, the suspect was armed with kitchen knives and other unsophisticated weapons, Collomb said, adding that he appeared to have acted alone.

Another visitor to the Cathedral, Dean Blair, tweeted: "Not the holiday experience wanted".

"It's terrifying and we keep saying amongst ourselves 'Oh my god, had we not stopped for a croissant we would be in the centre of all of that, we could've been shot'".

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Police officers seal off the access to Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France. "I heard two shots and saw a man lying on the ground in a pool of blood", one witness said.

As of this report, the area is still cordoned off until further notice but police have opened a formal terrorist investigation on the incident.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the attacker shouted "this is for Syria" before launching the attack at a Paris officer outside the tourist hotspot.

The video pledging allegiance to the jihadist group was found in a police search of an apartment he was renting in Cergy outside Paris, the source in the investigation said. People inside Notre Dame, the nearby Sainte-Chappelle cathedral and bars and cafes in the area were told to stay inside.

Macron's rivals portrayed him as weak on security during the presidential election campaign.

Soldiers patrol its streets alongside police to guard tourist sites, government buildings and events.

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Hundreds of tourists were deliberately locked inside the cathedral as the incident unfolded.

Ambassador Nancy Soderberg said she was admiring the church's stained glass windows on Tuesday when she heard an announcement in French urging visitors to stay calm as police dealt with an incident outside.

Both France and Britain have suffered a spate of militant attacks in recent months.

The pair started in England and were in London on the day three men attacked people on London Bridge and around Borough Market, killing seven and wounding dozens. That followed a suicide bombing in Manchester that killed 22 people.

In April, an attacker shot at a police van on Paris' Champs Elysees.

That attack was claimed by the Islamic State extremist group, which controls territory in Syria and Iraq and has repeatedly called on its followers to attack western targets.

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In September, Notre-Dame was already the scene of a scare after a vehicle full of gas canisters was found parked nearby. His thesis adviser, Arnaud Mercier, told broadcaster BFM that the suspect spoke Swedish, Arabic and French and that his resume mentioned that he had worked as a journalist in Sweden and Algeria.

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