French investigators on Sunday began questioning a suspect in the attack on troops outside the Louvre Museum in Paris, but the man refused to speak, a judicial source said.
The suspect, believed to be an Egyptian national, was shot in the stomach and seriously wounded after lunging at soldiers with two machetes on Friday.
Investigators decided to question him in hospital after his condition improved, the source said. The man “is refusing to speak to investigators for now”, the source added.
The suspect has been held at a Paris hospital since Friday’s attack near the historic museum, which thrust the issue of security back into the headlines three months ahead of the French presidential election.
Based on his phone and visa records, he is thought to be Abdallah El-Hamahmy, a 29-year-old Egyptian national living in the United Arab Emirates, who entered France legally on a flight from Dubai on January 26.
Investigators believe Hamahmy rented an expensive apartment near the Champs Elysees.
Police were examining Hamahmy’s Twitter account after around a dozen messages were posted in Arabic just minutes before the attack.
“In the name of Allah... for our brothers in Syria and fighters across the world,” he wrote, before referring to the Islamic State jihadist group in another tweet a minute later.
Speaking to AFP in Cairo yesterday, a retired police general, Reda El-Hamahmy, said he believed the wounded suspect was his son, Abdallah, who had been in Paris on a business trip. But he said there were no signs his son had been radicalised.
“He went on a company trip and when it was over visited the museum. He was supposed to leave on Saturday,” he told AFP, saying his son was married and his pregnant wife was currently staying in Saudi Arabia with their seven-month-old son.
“He is a simple guy,” he said. “I can show you pictures where he has no beard,” he said. Beards are often grown by devout Muslims.
Over the past two years, France has suffered a string of bloody attacks by Islamic extremists and has been under a state of emergency since November 2015.
Security, immigration and the economy are all major issues for voters ahead of this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections which are expected to confirm the country’s shift to the right after five years of Socialist rule.