Police quickly arrested the 26-year-old man, a French national, after subduing him with a Taser stun gun, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters.
The suspect had in 2016 been sentenced to four years in prison for planning another attack, and had been on the French security services’ watch list, the minister said, adding that he was also known for having psychiatric disorders.
The man attacked a tourist couple on Saturday evening with a knife on the Quai de Grenelle, a few feet from the Eiffel Tower, mortally wounding the German national.
He was then chased by police and attacked two other people with a hammer, including the Briton, before being arrested.
“We are supporting a British man who was injured in Paris and are in contact with the local authorities,” said a spokesperson for the British foreign ministry.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on X that he was “shocked” by the attack.
The suspect had shouted out “Allahu akbar” (God is Greatest) and told police he was upset because “so many Muslims are dying in Afghanistan and in Palestine” and was also upset about the Gaza situation, Darmanin said.
French anti-terrorism prosecutors are leading an investigation into the incident and will hold a press conference later on Sunday.
European security officials have warned of a growing risk of attacks by Islamists amid the Israel-Hamas war, with the biggest threat likely from “lone wolf” assailants who are hard to track.
“I send all my condolences to the family and loved ones of the German national who died this evening during the terrorist attack in Paris and think with emotion of the people currently injured and in care,” President Macron said on the social network platform X.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne expressed defiance in the face of such attacks, saying on X: “We will not give in to terrorism.”
France has been on high alert since raising its security threshold in October, when a Chechen-origin man with a knife killed a teacher in a school in northern France.
Paris Olympics Security
The attack in central Paris comes less than eight months before the French capital is due to host the Olympic Games and could raise questions about security at the global sporting event.
The city was planning an opening ceremony on the Seine river with the potential to attract as many as 600,000 spectators.
Opponents to President Emmanuel Macron were quick to react.
Jordan Bardella, president of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party, the largest single opposition party in parliament, said on X: “The French will wonder how a man on a watchlist already convicted of having planned an attack, who was a notorious psychiatric case, in the current context, was able to walk freely and armed on a Saturday evening through the streets of Paris”
Didier Fleury, a 63-year old entrepreneur who lives near the site of the attack, told Reuters: “If we look at the news at the moment, you can’t be completely surprised by that. Since those are random attacks, it’s very complicated to prevent. We’ll probably have more. The holiday season is approaching and, unfortunately, I’m afraid it won’t be the last.”