PARIS (AP) – A Muslim worshipper said to have psychological troubles entered a mosque in northern France and repeatedly beat two elderly men with a bat Friday, killing one and badly injuring the other, a Muslim leader and a police official said.
The assailant identified only as “Seddik” _ his first name _ carried out the attack in the tiny Ennour mosque in the city of Arras shortly after afternoon prayers, said Abdelkader Aoussedj, of Paris’ main mosque.
A local police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of office policy, told The Associated Press that the suspect lived in Arras, was in his 30s, and had a police record for violence.
The attacker used a heavy self-styled stick, the police official said, rather than a baseball bat mentioned by Aoussedj.
Several worshippers pounced on the assailant and subdued him until police arrived, and he was being held in custody, the official said, adding that one victim had been killed and the other was hospitalized in critical condition.
The attacker, a regular worshipper at the mosque, “suffered from psychological troubles,” said Aoussedj, who is in charge of northern France for the Grand Mosque of Paris.
“The entire Muslim community _ and everybody else _ is shocked about what happened in Arras,” Aoussedj said. “We share in the pain of the victims’ families and all the faithful at this mosque.”
Such attacks are virtually unheard of in France, which is home to Western Europe’s largest Muslim community _ estimated to be about 5 million people. Many trace their roots in former French colonies in north and west Africa.