ARRAS, France (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron held a special security meeting on Monday amid heightened alert against feared terror threats, as a high school where a teacher was fatally stabbed in an attack last week has been evacuated over a bomb threat.
Several hundreds of students and teachers went back into the high school in the northern town of Arras after what appeared to be a false alert.
All French schools held a moment of silence on Monday afternoon in homage to the teacher who was killed in Friday’s attack by a former student suspected of Islamic radicalization.
The homage also paid tribute to another teacher, Samuel Paty, killed exactly three years ago near his Paris area school. He was beheaded by a radicalized Chechen later killed by police.
Macron cut short travel plans abroad to hold a security meeting at midday with the prime minister and other key government members as well as top military and counterterrorism officials. He initially planned to attend a summit on the Western Balkans in Tirana, Albania.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that 102 people have been arrested in relation with antisemitic acts or inciting terrorism since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7 that led French authorities to reinforce security measures especially around Jewish sites.
Darmanin also said there are currently 193 foreigners considered “dangerous” by French intelligence services who will be sent back to their countries of origin as part of security measures.
Education Minister Gabriel Attal said that 168 bomb threats in French schools have been reported since the beginning of September.
“This is inadmissible and unacceptable,” he said.
The Louvre Museum in Paris and Versailles Palace evacuated visitors and staff Saturday after receiving bomb threats.
The French government heightened the national threat alert and ordered up to 7,000 soldiers to be deployed by Monday night and until further notice to bolster security and vigilance around France.
In a message to teachers and other school workers posted on X, formerly Twitter, Macron said “we took action, we are taking action and we will continue to take action to ensure that school remains a sanctuary for our students and for all those who work there.”
“To blind hatred, we will always oppose the inextinguishable thirst for teaching. The thirst for knowledge. The thirst for living free,” he added.
Counterterrorism authorities are investigating Friday’s stabbing, and the suspected assailant and several others are in custody, prosecutors said. The suspect had been under recent surveillance by intelligence services for radicalization. Court documents viewed by The Associated Press show he is from the Ingushetia region in Russia’s Caucasus Mountains.
The prosecutor said the alleged assailant was a former student there and repeatedly shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great,” during the attack. Prosecutors are considering charges of terrorism-related murder and attempted murder against the suspect.
The dead educator was Dominique Bernard, a French language teacher in the northern city of Arras at the Gambetta-Carnot school, which enrolls students ages 11-18. Another teacher and a security guard were in critical condition with wounds from the stabbing, police said. The counterterrorism prosecutor said a cleaning worker was also injured.