The October 29 knife attack at a Catholic Church in the French city of Nice, which left three persons dead, brings back focus to the rise in radical Islamic terror attacks in the country since the 1990s.
The first such attacks in France were reported in the 1990s, when a terror organisation named the Armed Islamic Group started targeting the country. Some of the major terror attacks carried out by the Algeria-based terror group included the 1994 Air France flight hijack and 1995 Saint-Michel serial blasts. As many as eight persons had died in the bombings while 140 others had got injured. The Paris Metro was the target of another terror attack in 1996 – this time, an IED explosion that killed four people and injured 170 others.
In response to these attacks, France developed a strong counter-terror apparatus by the early 2000s, and there was peace for some time. However, the radical Islamic terrorists were back at it again from the year 2012, with a self-proclaimed jihadi going on a shooting spree. Soldiers, a Jewish priest, and children were among his targets.
The next attack was witnessed in the year 2014, when a man shouting “Allahu Akbar (God is great)” entered a police station and started targeting uniformed personnel. In the same year, Nice became the target of a lone wolf attack, when a Tunisian drove a truck into a crowd on Bastille Day killing 86 persons.
Next came the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack, in which terrorists attacked and killed journalists at the office of the French magazine that had published Prophet Mohammed caricatures. A terror group claiming allegiance to al-Qaeda and ISIS killed 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo office that day.
Since then, a series of terror attacks have ravaged the country – the worst being the November 2015 Paris attacks in which over 130 people were killed. In the same year, a Muslim man identified as Yassin Salhi had beheaded his boss and displayed his head as a trophy along with two Islamic flags.
In 2016, two teenagers had slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest. The Islamic State had taken responsibility for this attack. In 2017, three persons were stabbed and killed in separate terror attacks, for which once again the Islamic State claimed responsibility.
In 2018, there was a knife attack in Paris and also a shooting incident, while in 2019, a package bomb explosion rocked Lyon. This time too, the attacker pledged allegiance to ISIS.
The year 2020 has already seen over half-a-dozen terror attacks, including the beheading of a teacher who had shown the controversial cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo during a lecture on the importance of freedom of speech.