A knife attack in a popular Paris neighborhood Sunday night left seven people injured but French authorities are not characterizing the incident as terrorism.
The attack took place just before 11p.m. in Parc de la Villette by the Ourcq Canal, a 19th arrondissement neighborhood frequented by young people and tourists.
The attacker, whom authorities believe to be an Afghan national, has been arrested.
“Nothing at this stage shows signs of a terrorist nature in these assaults,” a source close to the investigation told Agence France-Presse, adding that the man targeted “strangers in the street.”
“This is not being treated as a terrorist attack,” a French Interior Ministry spokesperson told CNN.
One witness, 28-year-old Youssef Najah, was walking next to a local canal when he spotted a man running with a large knife as bystanders hit him with balls used in a local outdoor version of bowling.
“There were around 20 people chasing him. They started throwing Petanque balls at him,” Najah told AFP. “Around four or five balls hit him in the head, but they weren’t able to stop him.”
The assailant then turned toward two British tourists and attacked them with his knife, according to Najah.
The assailant “tried to hide behind two British tourists. We said to them: ‘Watch out, he has a knife.’ But they didn’t react.”
The attack is the latest in a string of seemingly jihadist-inspired knife rampages in France in recent years. A man stabbed his mother and sister to death on August 23 in a Paris suburb before being shot and killed by police. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and authorities later confirmed that the perpetrator had been on their terror watch list since 2016. Earlier that month an Afghan asylum-seeker wounded four people with a knife while drunk in Perigeux, a small town in the southwest of France.
A Jihadist injured two people with a knife while yelling “Allahu Akbar” in a supermarket on June 17. That attack came roughly one month after a Chechen national killed one and injured several others with a knife near Paris’ famous Palais Garnier opera house.