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Police widen probe on Paris knife attacker

PARIS (AFP) – French investigators widened their probe yesterday to include possible help provided to the Chechen-born 20-year-old whose stabbing spree in central Paris, claimed by the Islamic State group, left one person dead and four seriously wounded.

The man, identified as naturalized Frenchman Khamzat Azimov, carried out the attack Saturday night in a lively area of theatres and restaurants near the city’s historic opera house.

The knifeman, whose rampage followed a series of jihadist assaults in France that have killed 246 people since 2015, was shot dead by police after an officer failed to subdue him with a Taser.

A source close to the inquiry said Azimov grew up with his family in Strasbourg, eastern France, which has a large community of Chechen refugees.

His parents, now living in Paris, have been taken into custody as well as a friend in Strasbourg described as the ”individual closest” to Azimov, according to a source close to the investigation.

Amaq, the IS propaganda agency, released a video on Sunday in which it claimed responsibility for the attack, with footage which it claims shows Azimov pledging allegiance to the jihadist group.

IS has long urged followers to seek ”martyrdom” by targeting American or European ”infidels” by any available means, and allegiance videos help the group bolster its claims of responsibility.