A history teacher was stabbed and “beheaded” in front of his school in a suspected terror attack near Paris, according to police.
The victim had shown caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad to students during a lesson earlier this month, officials said.
France's anti-terrorism prosecutor is investigating the incident in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, around 25km north west of the capital.
The attacker was shot dead by police about 600 metres away from the scene of the stabbing, close to the town of Eragny. He was armed with a knife and an airsoft gun, police said.
France’s education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said the “despicable assassination” was an attack on the French nation.
Ce soir, c’est la République qui est attaquée avec l’assassinat ignoble de l’un de ses serviteurs, un professeur.
Je pense ce soir à lui, à sa famille.
Notre unité et notre fermeté sont les seules réponses face à la monstruosité du terrorisme islamiste.
Nous ferons face .
— Jean-Michel Blanquer (@jmblanquer) October 16, 2020
“I think tonight of him, of his family,” he tweeted. “Our unity and steadfastness are the only answers to the monstrosity of Islamist terrorism.”
Interior minister Gerard Darmanin said he had set up a “crisis centre” to deal with Friday's attack and was keeping president Emmanuel Macron informed.
Mr Macron visited the area following an emergency meeting at the interior ministry on Friday evening.
Police officials told reporters that the teacher had opened a discussion about the Muhammad cartoons in class and that a parent of one of the pupils had filed a complaint. However the suspect did not have a child at the school, according to one official.
Another police source told the Reuters news agency that witnesses heard the attacker shout Allah Akbar, or God is Great. BFM TV reported that the suspect was aged 18 and was born in Moscow.
It was also reported that the attacker claimed responsibility on Twitter with the words: "To Macron, the leader of the infidels, I executed one of your hellhounds who dared to belittle Muhammad".
Last month two people were stabbed near the former offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, the scene of a deadly terror attack by Islamist militants in 2015.
The suspect in the double stabbing told police that he acted out of anger after the magazine reprinted caricatures of Prophet Muhammad.
Fourteen people suspected of involvement in the 2015 terror attack on Charlie Hebdo are currently on trial in Paris.
Additional reporting by agencies