Lee Rigby attack
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Police officers stand near the cordoned-off spot where a French soldier was stabbed in the throat in the busy commercial district of La Defense, just outside Paris. Photo: AP

Stabbings spark anti-terror inquiry in France, three more arrests in Britain

Search for knifeman in Paris attack as more suspects held over murder of British soldier


French anti-terror officers were yesterday investigating the stabbing of a soldier in Paris, in an attack that echoed the grisly killing of another soldier in London, where British police were holding three new suspects.

Cedric Cordier was in a stable condition in hospital after the stabbing on Saturday at a busy underground shopping and transport hub where he had been on patrol with two colleagues.

French President Francois Hollande said the stabbing could not be linked to the London murder "at this stage", although Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the "sudden violence of the attack" was similar. The assault on Cordier three days after Afghanistan veteran drummer Lee Rigby was hacked to death on a London street in an Islamist attack will raise fears of a spiral of brazen violence against Western soldiers on their home soil.

In Britain, three men were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder Rigby. Two men, aged 28 and 24, were arrested at a home in southeast London. Police fired a Taser electric stun gun at the older suspect, and at a 21-year-old man they arrested in a street around a kilometre from the murder scene.

All three were being held by detectives from the Counter Terrorism Command, supported by specialist firearms officers. Four residential addresses in southeast London had been searched.

The two men suspected of murdering Rigby - Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22 - remained in stable condition under armed guard at separate hospitals after being shot by police at the scene of the killing.

Adebolajo was previously arrested in Kenya in 2010, near the East African nation's border with Somalia, it was confirmed yesterday. He was believed to have been preparing to train and fight with the al-Qaeda-linked Somali militant group al-Shabab when he was arrested with five others, Kenya's anti-terrorism police unit head Boniface Mwaniki said, adding he was then deported.

However, Kenyan government spokesman Muthui Kariuki said Adebolajo was arrested under a different name and handed to British authorities.

"We handed him to British security agents in Kenya, and he seems to have found his way to London and mutated to Michael Adebolajo," Kariuki said.

After the killing, the Adebolajo and Adebowale launched into an Islamist tirade against British military involvement in Muslim countries that was captured on film by a passer-by, whose footage of Adebolajo - hands bloody, and wielding a knife and meat cleaver - shocked the nation.

Both suspects were brought up by Nigerian Christians and converted to Islam in their teens, and recently were seen handing out extremist literature in the streets - to the concern of their families.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Soldier's stabbing in Paris echoes UK crime