On the morning of October 13, 2023, in Arras, France, an incident took place at the City School Gambetta-Carnot, leading to the death of a teacher and the injury of another teacher and a security staff member. The circumstances revolved around a knife assault.
The individual responsible for this act was Mohammed Mogouchkov, a 20-year-old man originally from Russia with Chechen lineage. Significantly, he had been a former student at the school. His activities had drawn attention from intelligence agencies since the summer, following suspicions about his radical leaning.
Students at the school provided their accounts of the event. They spoke of the man pulling out two knives with apparent intent to harm. The teacher he targeted, Dominique Bernard, 57, demonstrated remarkable bravery. Bernard tried to mitigate the danger by positioning himself between the assailant and his students, insisting that they move away from the location.
There were accounts from some students who believed they heard the attacker utter “Allahu Akbar.” This information, however, remains under verification by local law enforcement. In light of the danger, the school administration implemented an immediate lockdown, which drew numerous worried parents to the school grounds.
In a subsequent development, Gerald Darmanin, the French Interior Minister, confirmed that law enforcement detained the assailant during their intervention on school premises. What amplifies concerns around this incident is the involvement of the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office. They have initiated an investigation into the matter, suggesting the possibility of terror motivations. Mogouchkov’s 16-year-old brother has also been detained.
This tragic event has unfolded shortly after President Emmanuel Macron’s call to the nation. He urged the French people to remain united and avoid intertwining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with France’s own narrative. It is noteworthy that this incident happened around the same time as a statement by the ex-Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal. He had recently urged followers of the Islamic faith to recognize a “day of Jihad” and organize protests.
Reacting to this serious occurrence, authorities have set up a crisis response team. They are extending psychological support to the affected students and staff of the school. Moreover, an appeal has been made to the public to be sensitive and avoid sharing any disturbing images associated with this event.