PARIS — French anti-terrorism investigators were searching today for a man who stabbed a soldier in the throat in the commercial district of La Defense outside Paris.
The 23-year-old soldier, Cedric Cordier, was in uniform patrolling the busy underground corridors where shops and crowded public transport lines converge beneath the famous Arch of La Defense.
Saturday’s stabbing came days after a British soldier was hacked to death on a London street in broad daylight in a suspected terrorist attack that has raised fears of potential copycat strikes. However, there was no immediate confirmation of any link between the two attacks.
Cordier remained hospitalized today but officials said his throat wound wasn’t life-threatening.
The French soldier was on a group patrol as part of a national protection program when he was attacked from behind.
France’s defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, who visited Cordier at the hospital Saturday evening, said that he had been targeted because he was a soldier.
Speaking shortly after the attack while on an official visit to Ethiopia, French President Francois Hollande said that while “all hypotheses” will be investigated, there didn’t appear to be a link with Wednesday’s deadly attack in London.
French security forces have been on heightened alert since their country launched a military intervention in the African nation of Mali in January to regain territory seized by Islamic radicals. British Prime Minister David Cameron was himself in Paris meeting with Hollande when he first received word of the London attack.
Last year, three French paratroopers were killed by a man police described as a French-born Islamic extremist who then went on to strike a Jewish school in the south of France, killing four more people.