French authorities are looking for possible links between the stabbing of a soldier outside Paris and the brutal killing of Drummer Lee Rigby by suspected Islamic extremists.
President Francois Hollande said the identity of the attacker who stabbed the French soldier in the throat ion Saturday was unknown and warned against jumping to conclusions about the assault in the busy La Defense shopping area. The 23-year-old soldier's injury was not life-threatening, the Interior Ministry said.
British soldier Drummer Rigby, 25, was hacked to death in broad daylight in Woolwich, south-east London, in a suspected terrorist attack that has raised fears of potential copycat strikes.
The uniformed French soldier was on a group patrol during a national protection programme when he was attacked from behind by a silent assailant, prosecutor Robert Gelli said.
"There are elements - the sudden violence of the attack - that could lead one to believe there might be a comparison with what happened in London," interior minister Manuel Valls told France 2 television. "But at this point, honestly, let us be prudent."
Drummer Rigby was attacked while walking outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. The gruesome scene was recorded on witnesses' mobile phones and a video emerged in which one of the two suspects - his hands bloodied - boasted of their exploits and warned of more violence as the soldier lay on the ground.
Holding bloody knives and a meat cleaver, the suspects waited for police, who shot them in the legs, witnesses said. In the video, one of the suspects declared: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you ... We must fight them as they fight us."
Two Muslim hardliners have identified that suspect as Michael Adebolajo, a Christian who converted to Islam and attended several London demonstrations organised by banned British radical group al-Muhajiroun.
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 in Paris meeting Mr 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.