French soldier shoots attacker outside Louvre

The scene outside the Louvre in Paris, 3 February 2017

A French soldier guarding the Louvre in Paris has shot a man who tried to attack a security patrol with a machete shouting “Allahu Akbar”, police say.

The man, who tried to gain entry to the Louvre’s shopping centre, was shot in the abdomen and seriously injured.

One soldier sustained a slight head injury.

PM Bernard Cazeneuve said the attack was “terrorist in nature”. The Louvre, home to numerous celebrated art works, is the world’s most visited museum.

The incident began at 10:00 local time (09:00 GMT) in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping centre at stairs leading to an entrance to the museum itself.

A patrol of four soldiers are reported to have tried to subdue the assailant using non-lethal force after he rushed at them.

When this failed and after one soldier was injured, five shots were fired. The suspected attacker was taken to hospital.

The Louvre museum in Paris, 3 February 2017, after an attempted attackImage copyrightJIAO LIYANG
Image captionVisitors to the Louvre were told to crouch on the floor, seen in this picture taken by a Chinese tourist

Two rucksacks belonging to the suspect, who shouted “God is greatest” in Arabic, have been inspected but no explosives were found. A second person has been arrested.

Two-hundred-and-fifty visitors were in the Louvre at the time were evacuated gradually after security checks.

As the attack unfolded, they were told by security staff to crouch on the floor.

Map showing the Louvre in Paris

France has been on a high state of alert since the Paris attacks of 2015. Thousands of troops on the streets form part of the stepped-up security response.

Timeline: Attacks in France

Freedom under threat in France

A series of assaults by gunmen and suicide bombers claimed by so-called Islamic State killed 130 people in November 2015.

In January of the same year, 17 people were killed in an attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and linked shootings.

Last July, 84 people were killed when a lorry ploughed through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice.

Though still hugely popular, the Louvre has suffered a drop in visitor numbers amid terrorism fears.