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Man In Fake Explosive Vest Killed As Paris Remembers 'Charlie Hebdo'


In Paris, police have killed a man who rushed into their station wearing a fake explosive belt. French authorities say they believe the man was a Moroccan named Ali Salah. This happened just as French President Francois Hollande was honoring the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris one year ago. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports.


ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: The day began with a solemn ceremony as President Francois Hollande paid tribute to the three police officers killed in last January's attacks that began at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.


FRANCOIS HOLLANDE: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Speaking at the city's main police precinct, Hollande told officers France owed them a debt of gratitude for putting their lives on the line to protect citizens.


HOLLANDE: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: The ceremony had barely ended when news channels went live with reports from another police precinct just a few miles away. A man who appeared to be wearing an explosive belt and carrying a knife had tried to get in. The Paris prosecutor says the man yelled, God is great in Arabic. Police shot him dead and a bomb expert found the belt to be a fake. The Paris prosecutor says a paper with a picture of the black flag of ISIS was found on his body.


HOLLANDE: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: In his speech this morning, Hollande says the country would recruit thousands more police, intelligence officers and judges to fight terrorism. France is currently in a prolonged state of emergency until March. This allows police to search homes and take people in for questioning without a warrant. Hollande wants to give police more powers even after the state of emergency ends, including loosening the rules about when they can open fire.

In Paris's 18th arrondissement where today's drama took place, streets were still blocked-off all day and local schools were on lockdown. Melina Jault is a teacher at a preschool on this street.

MELINA JAULT: (Through interpreter) We confined the kids today, just like we learned to do in all the exercises since the attacks last year. The kids weren't scared at all. They've been practicing and they were excited.

BEARDSLEY: Jeanne Toure, who emigrated to France from the Ivory Coast 30 years ago, says she loves to come shopping in this vibrant neighborhood. She just found out what happened in this street today.

JEANNE TOURE: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: "Oh, my God," she says, "not again. Well, it's his fault if he got killed. You can't get around." she says. "Who are these people ruining all of our lives?"

Danielle Guibon kisses a friend goodbye as she heads to her apartment on the blocked-off street where the precinct is located.

DANIELLE GUIBON: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: The high school history teacher says everything has changed since last year's terrorist attacks and that people are sad and traumatized. But when I ask her if she lives her life differently, she lights up with a defiant smile.

GUIBON: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: "Of course I live my life as usual," she says. "It would be a terrible failure not to live one's life because of these people. Parisians keep the memory of the attacks inside their heart and will never forget," Guibon says, "but we have to go on living our normal lives." Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.