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Louvre attack suspect stays silent during initial questioning

An Egyptian man suspected of charging at soldiers at the Louvre museum in Paris with a machete has been questioned by French investigators for the first time since the attack.

The Paris prosecutor's office said the suspect, who allegedly shouted "Allahu akbar" while rushing towards the soldiers, and was shot four times after slightly injuring one, remained silent during the interview and will remain in custody.

The Louvre was closed immediately after the Friday attack, but reopened for the weekend.

French authorities so far have not named the suspect, but confirmed they thought he was Egyptian.

They are being more cautious than their Egyptian counterparts, who have identified the attacker as 28-year-old Abdullah Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy.

His father spoke out on Saturday to say that his son was not a terrorist, but a family man who led a normal life with his wife and infant son.

Reda Refaie al-Hamahmy told The Associated Press that he trusts the French judiciary to find out the truth behind Abdullah's alleged involvement in the attack.

"If he is convicted, God be with us. But if he is innocent, they owe us an apology," the father said at the family home in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura.

"He is a very respectable man who never had a problem with anybody, he never had any sort of political views," he said.

"His main concern in his life was his work in the United Arab Emirates," he said, adding that his son had gone to France on a "work assignment".

Abdullah has lived in Dubai for the past five years, employed by what his father said was a law firm.

The Paris prosecutor's office says the attacker was shot after lightly wounding a soldier patrolling an underground mall near the museum, but that the injuries are no longer life-threatening.

Ibrahim Youssry, a close friend of Abdullah al-Hamahmy, said his behaviour on the day of the attack did not betray any intention to commit an act of violence.

"Before the attack, he commented on one of our friends' pictures on Instagram and liked some (other) pictures.

"He also called his father and asked him what to bring for him from France. All this contradicts the French story," said Youssry.

Two Egyptian officials said Sunday that local security agencies were continuing to gather information on Abdullah al-Hamahmy to help establish if he was a member of any militant groups or had been radicalised.

"We are trying to determine whether he was a lone wolf, worked with a group or he is innocent," said one of the officials, who is employed by the Interior Ministry.

"His tweets show a radicalised person. He supports the Daesh and other extremists in Syria," said the official, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

AP

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