France: Pupil, 12, Threatens Teacher With Knife

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A 12-year-old schoolgirl threatened a teacher with a kitchen knife in an apparent murder attempt at a school in northern France on Wednesday, prosecutors said, the latest in a growing number of incidents that have raised tensions in the French education system.

No-one was injured in the incident during English class in the northwestern city of Rennes but prosecutors said that they have opened a criminal investigation into attempted murder.

“This morning, a pupil threatened a teacher with a knife during a lesson. The pupils, shocked, were immediately moved to safety,” the local education authority said in a statement.

Born in 2011, the schoolgirl “came to class armed with a large knife with the apparent intention of killing her English teacher,” said Rennes prosecutor Rennes Philippe Astruc.

“During the lesson, in class, she brandished the knife at the victim who fled running,” before she was disarmed by staff of the Hautes Ourmes junior high school, he added.

At a later press conference, he showed drawings of the kitchen knife, which he said was 17 centimetres (6.7 inches) long.

The prosecutor said the girl was currently undergoing psychiatric examinations in hospital “which will allow us to shed further light on this situation.”

He said it appeared that the “psychological or even psychiatric aspect” seemed to him “dominant in the act of this minor”.

The suspect is the eldest of four children in a family of Mongolian origin, with residency in France and who arrived in Rennes in 2012.

There have been growing tensions in schools in France, which has large Muslim and Jewish communities, sometimes linked to the war between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

In October, a radicalised Islamist stabbed his former teacher Dominique Bernard to death in the northern town of Arras.

Earlier this week teachers at a school outside of Paris refused to work after a group of pupils objected to the showing in class of a painting by Renaissance master Giuseppe Cesari containing several nude women.

Meanwhile, a French court last week convicted six teenagers for their role in the 2020 killing of teacher Samuel Paty outside his secondary school near Paris by a radicalised Islamist.

Education Minister Gabriel Attal said he gave his “absolute support to the teacher” hailing “the immense courage and composure of the staff on site who were able to react to this threat”.

“I appreciate the trauma that this attack constitutes for her (the English teacher) and for the entire teaching community.”

A young girl from the school told AFP on condition of anonymity that there had been a dispute between the schoolgirl and the teacher who allegedly confiscated her cell phone last Friday.

She said the schoolgirl declared in front of her classmates that she was going to kill the teacher and “do like in Arras” but “no one took her seriously”.

(AFP)

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