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Eiffel Tower evacuated over attempted attack by armed man

EIFFEL TOWER EVACUATED OVER ATTEMPTED ATTACK BY ARMED MAN

The Eiffel Tower was evacuated at about 11:30 pm (2130 GMT) Saturday after an attempted attack by an armed man, a police source said on Sunday.

A young French man who recently was discharged from a psychiatric hospital is under investigation for glorifying terrorism after he brandished a knife and tried to breach security at the Eiffel Tower, authorities said Sunday.

No one was hurt in the incident late Saturday, though the tower was briefly evacuated, according to a statement Sunday from the company that manages the monument. The tower reopened as usual Sunday morning.

The man, who is aged around 19 and has a history of psychological problems, forced his way past security guards, a legal source told AFP.

Armed soldiers who are permanently stationed at the Eiffel Tower ordered him to drop his weapon, which he did without attacking anyone, the source said, asking not to be named.

The man, who was apparently alone, was "very quickly overpowered and arrested" and nobody was hurt, a statement from the company that runs the monument said.

While the man is accused of glorifying terrorism, the incident is being investigated as a common crime and not by anti-terrorism investigators, the judicial official said, because of his history of psychiatric problems and because authorities have no reason to believe he was part of a network or planning an attack.

The suspect was born in Mauritania in 1998, but has French citizenship, the official said. His name wasn't released.

After the arrest, police at the site checked the venue and called for it to be evacuated at around 00:30, 15 minutes before the Eiffel Tower normally closes, the statement added.

Monuments in the French capital are occasionally evacuated for security reasons, as the country remains on alert after deadly attacks since 2015.

The intruder was wearing a Paris Saint-Germain football shirt. At the time of the incident the tower was lit up with the colours of the team to welcome the club's new world-record signing, Brazilian star Neymar.

France has been under a state of emergency since the November 2015 attacks on Paris restaurants, a concert venue and a sports stadium that left 130 people dead.

Since the first wave of terror attacks in January 2015, 239 people have been killed.

The legal source said the man with the knife, a Frenchman born in the West African state of Mauritania, had been discharged from a psychiatric hospital in July.

The tower reopened on Sunday morning as usual at 09:00 am (0700 GMT).

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