Several injured in Paris knife attack

French authorities arrested a man who stabbed several people outside a cinema in Paris late Sunday.

Police said seven people were among the injured, including two British tourists, and four of them were in critical condition, news agency AFP reported.

The man, who is believed to be an Afghan national, was carrying an iron bar and a knife when he began stabbing people outside a cinema on the banks of the Bassin de la Villette in the city's 19th district at around 11pm (2100 UTC).

Witnesses said some people threw petanque balls — the heavy balls used in the popular French sport boules — at the attacker, but they were unable to stop him.

No signs of terror attack

AFP quoted a source close to the investigation as saying the man has been arrested and that he had targeted "strangers" but "nothing at this stage shows signs of a terrorist nature."

"We are urgently investigating this incident and are in close contact with the French authorities," the British Foreign Office said in a statement.

A string of knife attacks

The incident is the latest of several knife attacks France has experienced in recent months, with most cases being not terrorism-related.

On August 23, a man stabbed his mother and sister to death and seriously injured another person in a town near Paris before being shot dead by police. Authorities said the 36-year-old had serious mental health problems and had been on a terror watch list since 2016.

That attack came after an Afghan asylum-seeker was arrested in the southern town of Perigueux on August 13 after he injured four people, one seriously, with a knife in a drunken attack.

On June 17, two people were hurt in another southern town when a woman shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) attacked them in a supermarket with a boxcutter knife.

And in May, a 29-year-old man was killed and four other people were injured after an attacker began stabbing bystanders in the Opera district of central Paris. The attacker was shot dead by police.

law/kms (AFP, dpa)