Video report by ITV News Correspondent Mark McQuillan
A history teacher who opened a discussion with students on caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed has been decapitated in a street near Paris, a police official said.
Officers shot the suspected killer dead, the official continued.
The French anti-terrorism prosecutor has opened an investigation into Friday’s incident outside the capital.
French President Macron decried the attack against teacher, urging the nation to unite.
“One of our compatriots was assassinated today because he taught. He taught his students about freedom of expression, freedom to believe or not believe. It was a cowardly attack. He was the victim of a terrorist Islamist attack,” Macron said.
“This evening my thoughts are with all those close to him, with his family, with his colleagues at the college where we have seen the head teacher show courage in the last week. In the face of pressure [from parents] she did her job with remarkable duty.
“This evening I want to say to teachers all over France, we we are with them, the whole nation is with them today and tomorrow. We must protect them, defend them, allow them to do their job and educate the citizens of tomorrow.”
The incident occurred in the town of Eragny, in the Val d’Oise region north west of Paris.
A police official said the suspect, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun was shot about 600 metres from where the male teacher was killed.
The teacher had been threatened after opening a discussion “for a debate” about the caricatures, the police official told The Associated Press.
It was the second terrorism-related incident since the opening of an ongoing trial on the newsroom massacre in January 2015 at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
The paper recently republished caricatures of the prophet. A young man from Pakistan was arrested after stabbing, outside the newspaper’s former offices, two people who suffered non life-threatening injuries.