6 Feb 2017

Louvre attacker refuses to speak to investigators

8:15 am on 6 February 2017

A man who was shot by a French soldier outside the Louvre museum in Paris last week has refused to speak to investigators after being placed in formal detention at a hospital.

Police secure the area in front of the Louvre.

Police secure the area in front of the Louvre. Photo: AFP / Julien Mattia / NurPhoto

Abdullah Reda al-Hamahmy, 29, an Egyptian, was shot several times on Friday after attacking soldiers with a pair of machetes. One soldier was injured.

French President Francois Hollande described the incident as a terrorist attack.

"The first interview took place this morning, but it turned out to be a short one. For the moment, he refuses to talk to investigators," a source at the Paris prosecutor's office said.

Hamahmy's father told Reuters it was "nonsense" to suggest his son was a terrorist.

The youngest of four children, al-Hamahmy was a law graduate who worked in the United Arab Emirates for about five years and was in Paris on business.

The 29-year-old arrived in France on 26 January after obtaining a tourist visa in Dubai. Egyptian security officials have not said if he had any known links to militant groups.

The incident underlined the Islamist militant threat facing France, which has looming presidential elections and is under a state of emergency after a series of attacks over the past two years that killed more than 230 people.

Hamahmy's father, Reda Al Refaai, earlier accused French officials of fabricating the allegations against his son to excuse the force used to stop him.

Asked if his son had shown Islamist militant tendencies, the retired police major general said: "If he had I would have thrown him out of the house."

French investigators are hunting for clues to establish whether he acted alone, on impulse, or on orders from someone. He attacked troops checking bags near the museum's shopping mall with a machete in each hand, wounding one soldier.