Heavy police presence at Notre Dame in Paris has people on high alert today. Within the last hour, several people have taken to social media, saying that gunshots were heard outside of the cathedral. Other Twitter users have said that police have evacuated the area outside the church.
Soon after the incident, police urged people to stay away from the area as they search for any accomplices. Paris police have since said that the area is secure.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Police Have Shot & Wounded an ‘Attacker’
The current condition of the man shot by police is unknown. Reports indicate that the suspect was shot twice, at least once in the chest, and was being treated for his injuries.
“I was about to come inside [the cathedral] and heard the noise, the gunshots, turned around and saw the assailant on the ground where they had shot him. It was very safe, very quickly contained,” American tourist Kellyn Gorman told BBC News.
Police have not yet released the name of the attacker or that of the officer that was wounded. The officer’s current condition is also unknown.
2. Officials Are Treating This as a ‘Terrorist Incident’
According to BBC News, police have confirmed that this was a “terrorist incident.” Anti-terrorist prosecutors are in the midst of an investigation.
Fox New reports that the suspect was heard screaming, “This is for Syria,” before charging at a police officer. In addition to the hammer, he was also carrying two kitchen knives and “other unsophisticated weapons,” according to police.
3. The Incident Happened Outside of the Cathedral
People inside the cathedral at the time of the incident took to social media to let people know that they were okay. They have been on lockdown inside the cathedral since the incident occurred.
Paris police will be allowing those on lockdown to be “cleared” following “usual checks.” Police entered the cathedral and asked everyone inside to put their hands in the air.
People were allowed to leave the church row by row, according to Matthew CurrieHolmes, who was inside the cathedral during the incident. He said that everyone was “frisked” as they exited.
4. Gunshots Were Heard & People Started Running
“Two ‘blasts’ sparked panic among tourists amassed outside Notre Dame. A man was then seen ‘lying on the ground inert,’ according to a journalist with France Info who works by the cathedral,” reports The Telegraph.
5. France Is on High-Alert Following Terrorist Attacks in Paris & the UK
In November 2015, 130 people were killed in the Paris Attacks, which ISIS claimed responsibility for. It started around 9:20 p.m. local time with an explosion outside the Stade de France. Ten minutes later, a second blast went off. A third explosion went off about 20 minutes after that at the Rue de la Cokerie. There was also an explosion at Comptoir Voltaire. All of these explosions were carried out by suicide bombers.
Within that timeframe, gunmen stormed La Petit Cambodge and Le Carillon, Café Bonne Biere, La Belle Equipe, and the Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people were killed.
In July 2016, 84 people died when a man drove a truck through a crowd of people on the promenade in Nice, France.
Since the 2015 attacks, the country has been in a state of emergency.
“Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist terrorist groups, and recent French military intervention against Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), the French government has warned the public to be extra vigilant and has reinforced its own domestic and overseas security measures,” reads the GOV.UK website in part.