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  1. ITV Report

French police launch terrorism investigation following knife attack

The attacker was killed by police after stabbing several people. Credit: AP

French authorities have opened a terrorism investigation after a knife attack in central Paris that left two people dead, including the assailant, and injured several others.

The Paris police said the attacker was shot by officers during the stabbing attack in which witnesses say they heard him shout "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great" in Arabic.

Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that counterterrorism authorities are leading the investigation on potential charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with terrorist motives.

President Emmanuel Macron tweeted his praise for police who "neutralised the terrorist" and said France will not cede to "enemies of freedom" after the apparent terrorist stabbing.

The Islamic State group news agency claimed the suspect as one of its "soldiers" on Saturday night.

French media have reported that the attacker was shot dead by police. Credit: AP

The Aamaq news agency did not provide evidence for its claim or details on the identity of the assailant, who was apparently killed by police.

The statement claimed the attack was in response to IS group's calls for supporters to target members of the US-led military coalition squeezing the extremists out of Iraq and Syria.

French police asked the public not to spread rumours about the attack before the facts became clear.

"Please only share information coming from a trusted source," the police tweeted.

French police have said counterterrorism authorities are leading the investigation. Credit: AP

Interior minister Gerard Collomb condemned the "odious attack" and said the alleged attacker was “neutralised” by police and praised officers for their actions.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux tweeted: "Thoughts for the victims of the attack that hit the heart of Paris tonight.

"My gratitude to the police force who neutralised the assailant.

Paris has been under higher security in recent years after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks.