French police name arrested Paris gun suspect

A handout photo from Paris prosecutors of a man suspected of gun attacks in Paris Paris's police prefecture handed out a picture of the suspected gunman in the Concorde metro station

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French authorities have named a man arrested on suspicion of carrying out recent gun attacks in Paris as Abdelhakim Dekhar.

He was taken into custody at about 18:00 GMT from a vehicle in a car park in Bois-Colombes, north-west of Paris.

Authorities said Dekhar had been jailed in 1998 for his role in a string of fatal shootings in Paris.

Last Friday a gunman threatened a Paris TV station and on Monday attacked a newspaper office and bank HQ.

Prosecutors said late on Wednesday that samples of Dekhar's DNA matched that from the crime scenes.

They said he was not yet in a position to be questioned and the reading of his rights had been postponed.

Dekhar was arrested in a stationary car in an underground car park following a tip-off from a member of the public.

Liberation's account

It was 10.12 on Monday when a man came in by the main door, took out a pump-action shotgun and, without a word, opened fire on an assistant photographer. C, aged 23, was loading material for a photoshoot into a lift, with his back to the suspect. The bullet went into his chest and came out by his left lung, under his heart. The attack lasted 10 seconds and the man left without saying anything, an eyewitness said. His face was uncovered.

Alerted by the noise, Lionel - an IT worker - went to reception and saw "blood everywhere, cartridges on the floor" and C, who had collapsed under the desk. Lionel gave C first aid before the emergency services arrived and took him to the Pitie-Salpetriere hospital.

CCTV footage indicated the man may have turned right on leaving the newspaper offices and taken the metro at Republique. Interior minister Manuel Valls, who went to the newspaper offices, said it looked like a war zone: three spent cartridges, including a type normally used to kill wild boar and big game. One of the bullets had lodged in the ceiling.

Police union official Christophe Crepin said: "My colleagues noticed he was not very lucid. They deduced that he had taken medicines, because of the capsules nearby."

Some media sources have suggested he may have attempted suicide.

The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says Dekhar is believed to have been the third man in the so-called Rey-Maupin affair, named after a young couple with links to anarchist groups who bungled an attempt to steal weapons from guards and then hijacked a taxi.

In the subsequent chase and shootout, three policemen and the taxi driver were killed, as well as Audry Maupin.

Maupin's girlfriend, Florence Rey, was released from jail a few years ago.

Their story was compared to the controversial American film, Natural Born Killers.

At his trial in 1998, Dekhar protested his innocence, claiming he had been recruited by the Algerian secret service to infiltrate the French far-left. He served four years.

Hundreds of police were involved in a huge manhunt that began on Monday, and security was stepped up at all media outlets.

An appeal for information generated almost 700 calls.

'I will not miss'

The first incident - last Friday - was at the offices of the BFMTV television channel.

The intruder emptied the chamber of his gun in the reception area without firing, saying: "Next time, I will not miss you."

Underground car park in Bois-Colombes, 20 Nov The man was arrested at an underground car park in Bois-Colombes

CCTV showed that he spent only a few seconds in reception, before hurrying out.

On Monday, the suspect attacked the offices of the Liberation newspaper, firing twice and critically injuring a 23-year-old photography assistant.

Two hours later, the same man fired shots outside the headquarters of the bank Societe Generale, in the western business district of La Defense. No-one was hurt.

A car was then hijacked and the driver was forced to drop the suspect off near the Avenue des Champs Elysees, where he disappeared.

The attacks shocked French newspapers.

The publisher of Liberation, Nicolas Demorand, wrote a commentary on Tuesday promising to continue to operate.

"Opening fire in a newspaper is an attack on the lives of men and women who are only doing their jobs. And on an idea, a set of values, which we call the Republic," he said.

The gunshot victim is said to have improved in hospital, is now conscious and no longer needs an artificial respirator.


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