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Attack that killed 2 police officials in France posted on Facebook

A Frenchman who was once convicted for recruiting jihadi fighters recorded video of his deadly attack on two police officials and posted it to Facebook, authorities say.

Child unharmed in fatal knife attack on father, mother in suburban home outside Paris

French police officers block the road leading to a crime scene the day after a knife-wielding attacker stabbed to death a senior police officer and his female companion Monday evening in Magnanville, west of Paris. (Thibault Camus/Associated Press)

In a video released by the Islamic State group and recorded in the suburban Paris home of his victims, a former jihadi
recruiter confessed to killing a police officer and his partner and listed other prominent people he planned to target.

On Tuesday, French President François Hollande called it an "incontestably a terrorist act" and urged heightened vigilance.

The suspect, Larossi Abballa, a 25-year-old Frenchman staked out off-duty police commander Jean-Baptiste Savaing, 42, and stabbed him repeatedly in the stomach outside his home in the suburb of Magnanville, about 55 kilometres west of Paris, according to police.

Abballa then entered Savaing's house and stabbed his partner, identified as 36-year-old Jessica Schneider, a police administrator, then took their three-year-old son hostage, prosecutor Francois Molins said. For about three hours, police surrounded the building as Abballa first made demands and then apparently made the video.

It was earlier reported that Abballa may have live-streamed part of the attack via Facebook Live, but that report could not be not confirmed. The video was posted to Facebook during the standoff with police officers, who stormed the house about an hour later, killing Abballa and rescuing the child, Molins told reporters.

Police arrive on the scene near where a French police commander was stabbed to death in front of his home in the Paris suburb of Magnanville. His romantic partner was killed in their home hours later after a standoff with police. (BFMTV/Reuters)

Abballa's Facebook page was taken down, but the Islamic State group's Amaq news agency later released the video, which appears to have been filmed inside the couple's home.

"I just killed a police officer and his wife," he says, adding: "The police are currently surrounding me." He then listed other planned targets, including rappers, journalists, police officers and police officials.

Unusually, the video was edited. The victims do not appear.

Facebook declined to discuss the episode except to say in a brief statement: "We are working closely with the French authorities as they deal with this terrible crime. Terrorists and acts of terrorism have no place on Facebook. Whenever terrorist content is reported, we remove it as quickly as possible. We treat take-down requests by law enforcement with the highest urgency."

Profile removed from Facebook

A Facebook profile bearing the name Larossi Abballa, which vanished from the internet early Tuesday, showed a photo of a smiling, bearded man. Two recent posts featured videos critical of Israel and Saudi Arabia. The last post publicly available was a mock-up of the European Championship logo highlighting the posters' purported masonic and occult symbols.

"Some will say we see evil everywhere!" Abballa said in a message posted about 18 hours before the attack.

Earlier in the day, three people — ages 27, 29 and 44 — were detained in the investigation, Molins said. Two had been convicted with Abballa in 2013 for involvement in a network recruiting for jihad in Pakistan, a French official said.

France on high alert

France has been on particularly high alert, deploying 90,000 security force members to protect the month-long European Championship soccer tournament, and is still under a state of emergency after the November attacks that killed 130 people.

On Tuesday, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve visited the police station in Les Mureaux where Salvaing worked. He said more than 100 people seen as potential threats have been arrested in France this year, including in recent weeks.

France, like other countries in Europe, has seen a series of stabbings aimed at police officers or soldiers and carried out by Muslim radicals.

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was lit up Monday night in the colours of a rainbow to honour victims of Saturday's mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., that killed 49 people. The gunman declared his allegiance to ISIS in phone calls to police, but his motives remain unclear.

The Eiffel Tower is illuminated in memory of the victims of the mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

With files from Reuters and CBC News

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