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French Investigators Probe Deadly Attack On 2 Police Officers

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, and now let's turn to France where two police officers were killed in an attack last night. The assailant was a Frenchman turned radicalized Islamist. French President Francois Hollande says there is no doubt this was a terrorist act. The attack took place as France is hosting the European soccer championship. NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: The attack took place Monday night in Magnanville, a town about 30 miles west of Paris. The 25-year-old attacker was waiting for the officer when he arrived home from work in a calm, leafy neighborhood. The policeman was taken by surprise and stabbed several times until he collapsed in his driveway.

Then the attacker slipped into his house, where he took his wife and son hostage.

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PIERRE-HENRY BRANDET: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Standing in front of the house after midnight, Interior Ministry Spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet began to inform reporters about negotiations with the assailant just as SWAT teams launched their assault. The attacker was killed. Police found the body of his wife, who was also a police officer. The couple's 3-year-old son was rescued.

Speaking on the radio this morning, policeman Christophe Rouget says what happened is every officer's worst nightmare.

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CHRISTOPHE ROUGET: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: "That someone would come after your family because of your job," he said. "We know we're targeted in the line of duty, but this is a step further." The attacker was known to police for petty crime and because he was sentenced to prison in 2013 for involvement in a jihadi recruiting network. His name is Abballa Larossi, and he claimed the attack for ISIS.

The group also says it was behind the killings. Analysts say Larossi may have been spurred on by the Orlando attack. And they say there could be more such attacks this month because ISIS has urged its followers to strike during Ramadan. France, the U.S. and Britain are prime targets for the group.

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UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting in foreign language).

BEARDSLEY: The attack took place as the Euro championship is in full throttle. The streets of Paris are full of revelers from across the continent. So far, aside from soccer hooliganism over the weekend in Marseille, the event has run smoothly. With nearly 100,000 police and soldiers already on duty across the country, it's hard to increase security further. But Orlando is on everyone's mind.

Last night, the Eiffel Tower was lit up in the colors of the rainbow with the American flag projected onto the giant soccer ball hanging beneath it. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.