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France on high alert due to Hamas-Israel war, Louvre Museum closed

The killing on Friday of teacher Dominique Bernard was apparently related to tensions in the Middle East, said French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.
Policemen from the River Brigade (Brigade Fluviale) patrol on a boat on the Seine River, in front of the Louvres' museum in Paris on May 9, 2023.

PARIS — French authorities on Saturday ordered the Louvre Museum in Paris temporarily closed "for security reasons." The decision comes against the backdrop of growing tensions in France following the Hamas attack against Israel and the situation in Gaza, and also after the killing on Friday of a teacher in Arras, France. 

The authorities on Friday night raised the alert level to "emergency-imminent attack" following the stabbing and killing of Dominique Bernard right in front of the school where he taught in Arras. Two other people were injured in the incident. Witnesses said the assailant, later identified as 20-year-old Mohamed Mogoutchov, called out "Allahu Akbar" at least once while stabbing Bernard.

The murder took place just three days after the three-year anniversary of the killing of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who was stabbed and killed on Oct. 16, 2020, for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his students.

France's antiterrorist prosecution has opened an official investigation. Mogoutchov was listed on French intelligence agencies' "S" list, which means he was suspected of Islamic radicalization. French BFM TV reported that Mogoutchov and his brother exchanged several messages in the past about the situation in the Middle East before Hamas' latest attack on Israel. The brother and nine other family members were detained by police for questioning. “There is undoubtedly a link, unfortunately, between what happened in the Middle East and this action (the incident in Arras),” said French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

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