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August 22, 2017

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Alleged Eiffel Tower intruder sent to psychiatric hospital

PARIS - A knife-wielding man held after allegedly attempting to force his way into the Eiffel Tower in Paris has been sent to a psychiatric hospital.

The man, held since the attempt to force through a security control at the tower on Saturday night, was examined by a psychiatrist who determined that he lacked discernment, a judicial source said on Tuesday.

The source added that the suspect was sent to a hospital where he had previously been treated.

Investigating judges are looking into possible charges including attempted terrorist murder of public officials and may seek a second psychiatric report, the source added.

The Eiffel Tower was evacuated after midnight on Saturday following the incident, in which the intruder was quickly overcome and arrested without causing any injuries.

Anti-terrorism investigators took over the probe on Sunday after an initial interrogation of the suspect.

A source close to the inquiry said that under questioning, the suspect had said he wanted to attack a soldier and that a member of the Islamic State extremist group had encouraged him to act.

France has been on high alert since a series of terrorist attacks in 2015 and 2016 that left more than 230 people dead.

Most of those attacks were claimed by Islamic State.

Security forces have been attacked several times this year at tourist sites in Paris, which they patrol intensively.

In June 2017, a man attacked police officers with a hammer outside Notre Dame cathedral, injuring one of them.

In April, a police officer was shot dead on the Champs-Elysees by a man with a long criminal record.

In January, a man attacked soldiers on guard near the Louvre museum in Paris with a machete, causing a slight injury to one of them.

Authorities are treating all three of those incidents as terrorism.

City authorities plan to replace the makeshift barriers currently surrounding the Eiffel Tower with bullet-proof glass walls on two sides, and metal fences on the other two.

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