Paris police kill man armed with meat cleaver on Charlie Hebdo anniversary

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Attacker Shot in Paris Had Paper with ISIS Flag

PARIS (Reuters) -- French police shot dead a man wielding a meat cleaver after he tried to enter a police station on Thursday, the anniversary of militant attacks in Paris, shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) and wearing what turned out to be a fake suicide belt.

The Paris prosecutor said the man had also been carrying a mobile phone and sheet of paper bearing the Islamic State flag and claims of responsibility by the militant group written in Arabic. He has yet to be named, but some French media reports said he had already been identified by investigators.

The incident took place exactly one year after deadly Islamist militant attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in the French capital and also just minutes after President Francois Hollande had given a speech in an another part of Paris to mark the anniversary.

In his statement, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said a terrorism inquiry had been opened into the incident, which occurred in the 18th district of the capital, an area Islamic State said it had planned to strike in November.

"(The man) shouted 'Allahu Akbar' and had wires protruding from his clothes. That's why the police officer opened fire," said a police official.

French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet later said the suicide belt the man was wearing had proved to be fake.

France has been on high alert ever since the shootings last January at the Charlie Hebdo office and at a Jewish supermarket in which 17 people died over three days.

Security concerns were further heightened in November, when 130 people were killed in the capital in coordinated shootings and suicide bombings that targeted a music hall, bars and restaurants and a soccer stadium.

Islamic State, the militant group that controls swathes of Iraq and Syria, claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 attacks. Several of the militants involved in those attacks were, like last January's killers, French-born.

See photos of the scene in Paris:

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Man shot dead in Paris outside police station after wielding knife
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Paris police kill man armed with meat cleaver on Charlie Hebdo anniversary
French police patrol near the Boulevard de Barbes in the north of Paris on January 7, 2016, after police shot a man dead as he was trying to enter a police station in the nearby Rue de la Goutte d'Or. French police shot dead a suspected suicide bomber as he attacked the police station, a year to the day since jihadist gunmen killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo newspaper. The man reportedly shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) and was carrying a knife and what turned out to be a 'fake' suicide vest. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
French police patrol near the Rue de la Goutte d'Or in the north of Paris on January 7, 2016, after police shot a man dead as he was trying to enter a police station. French police shot dead the knife-wielding man as he attacked a police station in Paris, a year to the day since jihadist gunmen killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo newspaper. The man reportedly shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) and was wearing what appeared to be an explosives vest although it was later found to be a fake, police and government sources said. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 07: French police attend the scene after a man was shot dead by police on January 7, 2016 in Paris, France. French Police have shot dead a man as he attempted to gain access to a Police station wilth brandishing a knife. It is believed that the man was wearing a fake suicide vest and a bomb disposal experts were brought in to investigate. The incident comes on the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
French criminal police are seen in the Rue de la Goutte d'Or in the north of Paris on January 7, 2016, after police shot a man dead as he was trying to enter a police station. French police shot dead a suspected suicide bomber as he attacked the police station, a year to the day since jihadist gunmen killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo newspaper. The man reportedly shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) and was carrying a knife and what turned out to be a 'fake' suicide vest. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
French police are seen near the Rue de la Goutte d'Or in the north of Paris on January 7, 2016, after police shot a man dead as he was trying to enter a police station. French police shot dead the knife-wielding man as he attacked a police station in Paris, a year to the day since jihadist gunmen killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo newspaper. The man reportedly shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) and was wearing what appeared to be an explosives vest although it was later found to be a fake, police and government sources said. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / A man shot dead in front of a police station is searched by a policeman and an anti-explosive robot on January 7, 2016 in Paris. French police shot dead a knife-wielding man today as he attacked a police station in Paris, a year to the day since jihadist gunmen killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo newspaper. The man reportedly shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) and was wearing what appeared to be an explosives vest although it was later found to be a fake, police and government sources said. / AFP / ANNA POLONYI (Photo credit should read ANNA POLONYI/AFP/Getty Images)
An ambulance car drives past French police patrolling near Rue de la Goutte d'Or in the north of Paris on January 7, 2016, after police shot a man dead as he was trying to enter a police station. French police shot dead the knife-wielding man as he attacked a police station in Paris, a year to the day since jihadist gunmen killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo newspaper. The man reportedly shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) and was wearing what appeared to be an explosives vest although it was later found to be a fake, police and government sources said. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 07: Armed French police patrol near the Boulevard de Barbes in the north of Paris on January 7, 2016 in Paris, France. French police have shot dead a man as he attempted to gain access to a Paris police station whilst brandishing a knife. It is believed that the man was wearing a fake suicide vest and bomb disposal experts were brought in to investigate. The incident comes on the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 07: Armed French police patrol near the Boulevard de Barbes in the north of Paris on January 7, 2016 in Paris, France. French police have shot dead a man as he attempted to gain access to a Paris police station whilst brandishing a knife. It is believed that the man was wearing a fake suicide vest and bomb disposal experts were brought in to investigate. The incident comes on the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 07: An armed French police officer patrols at the Boulevard de Barbes in the north of Paris on January 7, 2016 in Paris, France. French police have shot dead a man as he attempted to gain access to a Paris police station whilst brandishing a knife. It is believed that the man was wearing a fake suicide vest and bomb disposal experts were brought in to investigate. The incident comes on the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
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HOLLANDE VOWS MORE HELP FOR POLICE

Journalist Anna Polonyi, who could see the outside of the police station from the window of her flat, posted photos on social media that showed what appeared to be a bomb-disposal robot beside the body of the man, who was wearing blue jeans and a grey coat.

Polonyi told Reuters her sister, in the flat with her, had seen the incident happen. She said the police shouted at the man and that he then started running towards them before they shot him.

In his speech, Hollande promised to equip police better to prevent further militant attacks. He also defended draconian security measures implemented since November that his Socialist government had once shunned.

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Last year's attacks have boosted the popularity of the far-right, anti-immigrant National Front party ahead of a presidential election due in 2017.

"Terrorism has not stopped posing a threat to our country," said Hollande.

Since the November attacks, Paris has increased its efforts at striking jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, becoming the second largest contributor to the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State.

Security measures at home have included a three-month state of emergency during which the police have launched hundreds of raids on homes, mosques, restaurants and hotels.

Separately on Thursday, a French court sentenced a French-born Islamist militant in absentia to 15 years in jail for his role in recruiting jihadists to fight for the group in Syria in 2013.

The whereabouts of Salim Benghalem, 35, who is believed to have had links to the perpetrators of both series of Paris attacks, remain unknown. He is suspected of being an Islamic State executioner and of having led a group of French-speaking jihadis in Raqqa, Syria.

The French court sentenced six other defendants who attended Thursday's hearing to jail terms of between six and nine years for being part of the recruitment network.

It was the first such court case involving militant Islamists in France since the November killings.

RELATED: See more from the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks

8 PHOTOS
Charlie Hebdo attacks anniversary, commemoration
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Paris police kill man armed with meat cleaver on Charlie Hebdo anniversary
A painting with the message 'I am Ahmed' is seen in a street on January 5, 2016 after a ceremony to unveil a commemorative plaque at the site where policeman Ahmed Merabet was killed during the last year's January attack in Paris. A total of 17 people were killed in the three days of attacks dubbed 'France's 9/11', marking the start of a string of jihadist strikes in the country that culminated in November's massacre in Paris. / AFP / JOEL SAGET (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
The mother of Ahmed Merabet (L), the policeman who was killed during the last year's January attack, leaves on January 5, 2016 in Paris after a ceremony to unveil a commemorative plaque at the site where her son was shot. A total of 17 people were killed in the three days of attacks dubbed 'France's 9/11', marking the start of a string of jihadist strikes in the country that culminated in November's massacre in Paris. / AFP / POOL / BENOIT TESSIER (Photo credit should read BENOIT TESSIER/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on January 5, 2016 in Paris shows an art piece made of a painting by French cartoonist Philippe Honore (known as Honore) and mosaic picturing French cartoonist Charb on of the the victims killed in the attack of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 7, 2015. A total of 17 people were killed in the three days of attacks dubbed 'France's 9/11', marking the start of a string of jihadist strikes in the country that culminated in November's massacre in Paris. / AFP / JOEL SAGET / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on January 5, 2016 in Paris shows an art piece made of a painting by French cartoonist Philippe Honore (known as Honore) and mosaic picturing French cartoonist Honore on of the the victims killed in the attack of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 7, 2015. A total of 17 people were killed in the three days of attacks dubbed 'France's 9/11', marking the start of a string of jihadist strikes in the country that culminated in November's massacre in Paris. / AFP / JOEL SAGET / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on January 5, 2016 in Paris shows an art piece made of a painting by French cartoonist Philippe Honore (known as Honore) and mosaic picturing French cartoonist Tignous on of the the victims killed in the attack of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 7, 2015. A total of 17 people were killed in the three days of attacks dubbed 'France's 9/11', marking the start of a string of jihadist strikes in the country that culminated in November's massacre in Paris. / AFP / JOEL SAGET / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on January 5, 2016 on Paris shows an art piece made of a painting by French cartoonist Philippe Honore (known as Honore) and mosaic picturing French cartoonist Cabu on of the the victims killed on the attack of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015. A total of 17 people were killed in the three days of attacks dubbed 'France's 9/11', marking the start of a string of jihadist strikes in the country that culminated in November's massacre in Paris. / AFP / JOEL SAGET / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on January 5, 2016 in Paris shows an art piece made of a painting by French cartoonist Philippe Honore (known as Honore) and mosaic picturing French cartoonist Wolinski on of the the victims killed in the attack of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 7, 2015. A total of 17 people were killed in the three days of attacks dubbed 'France's 9/11', marking the start of a string of jihadist strikes in the country that culminated in November's massacre in Paris. / AFP / JOEL SAGET / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
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