Louvre reopens as Egypt identifies machete attacker

A French soldier was on patrol Saturday in the courtyard of the Louvre in Paris.
Kamil Zihnioglu/Associated Press
A French soldier was on patrol Saturday in the courtyard of the Louvre in Paris.

PARIS — The Louvre reopened to the public Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after a machete-wielding assailant shouting ‘‘Allahu Akbar!’’ was shot by soldiers.

In drizzly weather, tourists filed past armed police and soldiers outside the central Paris museum, which was closed immediately after Friday’s attack.

The attacker was shot four times after slightly injuring a soldier on patrol, and the attacker’s injuries are no longer life-threatening, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.


An Egyptian Interior Ministry official confirmed the identity of the attacker as Egyptian-born Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy, 28. The official said the initial investigation found no record of political activism, criminal activity, or membership of any militant groups at home.

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The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media. French authorities are not ‘‘at this stage’’ naming the suspect.

On the Twitter account of an ‘‘Abdallah El-Hamahmy,’’ tweets about a trip from Dubai to Paris were posted on Jan. 26. In the profile photo, Hamahmy is seen smiling and leaning calmly against a wall in a blue and white sports jacket.

In another tweet on the account written in Arabic, Hamahmy went on an angry tirade ahead of the Louvre attack, posting: ‘‘No negotiation, no compromise, no letting up, certainly no climb down, relentless war.’’

In an interview with the Dubai-based news channel al-Hadath aired Saturday, Hamahmy’s father, Reda Refae al-Hamahmy, said he was shocked to learn of his son’s alleged involvement.


‘‘All I want is to know the truth,” he said. ‘‘This is all a scenario made up by the French government to justify the soldiers opening fire.” He denied that his son was radical or a member of any militant groups.

Louvre visitors expressed mixed feelings Saturday on the incident with some tourists planning to leave Paris earlier than planned.

‘‘We heard on the news that a terrorist attack took place . . . We stayed at the hotel and we’re thinking about cutting our vacation in Paris short,’’ said Lucia Reveron, from Argentina.

Others were stoic and felt safe because of the heightened security presence.

‘‘I went around yesterday, in the evening, and security was everywhere. Even now when we arrived [at the Louvre] we were checked and it’s secure. I don’t feel any threats,’’ said Kurt Vellafonde, of Malta.


With the spate of attacks on the country in the last couple of years many permanent residents have become resilient, even blasé.

‘‘There have been very good security measures taken, and it does not scare me at all,’’ said Regine Dechivre. ‘‘It’s the phenomena of a person a little bit disturbed. The investigation will tell us what exactly happened.”

The suspect’s father said Hamahmy is married with a 7-month-old child, and in his last contact with the family said he intended to tour the city’s sites before leaving France. He sent his father a photo of himself with the Eiffel tower in the background shortly before the attack.

Hamahmy’s brother Ahmed, who works at the Health Ministry in Dubai, was interrogated for several hours by security officials in the United Arab Emirates, the father said. In Egypt, several officers from the domestic security agency visited the family home in the Nile Delta on Friday night to question family members.

The United Arab Emirates condemned the attack after a French official said the suspect was believed to have been living in the UAE.

UAE officials offered no comment Saturday about his possible connection to the country.

The country, which includes the Mideast commercial hub of Dubai, is a major destination for guest workers from Egypt and numerous other countries. Foreign residents outnumber native Emiratis roughly four to one.

‘‘The UAE, while strongly condemning this hideous crime, affirms its full solidarity with the friendly French Republic in these circumstances and its support for whatever measures France may take to preserve its security and safety of its citizens and residents,’’ the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a prepared statement.

France is working with the Emirates to build a branch of the Louvre in the federal capital, Abu Dhabi.