PARIS — A French police officer was attacked and stabbed as he sat in his patrol car early Monday morning in the city of Cannes, on the French Riviera, according to the French authorities.
While the officer was unharmed because he was wearing a protective bulletproof vest and the assailant was quickly taken into custody, the incident triggered alarms because of the brazen nature of the assault and because of a history of terrorist attacks against the police in France.
“I am immediately heading there this morning and express full support for the national police and the city of Cannes,” Gérald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, said on Twitter.
Éric Ciotti, a lawmaker who represents the Alpes-Maritimes area that includes Cannes, on Twitter called the assault a “terrorist attack,” and several French media outlets, quoting anonymous police sources, said the assailant had said during the attack that he was acting “in the name of the prophet.”
But the French authorities have not yet officially announced a suspected motive for the attack, and the identity of the assailant was not immediately clear.
The local police said on Twitter that the attack occurred in front of the main police station on Boulevard Carnot, in the center of Cannes, and that the situation was under control.
David Lisnard, the mayor of Cannes, said on Twitter that one of the police officers involved in the incident had fired at the assailant but that no one had been killed.
“The circumstances of the attack are being clarified,” Mr. Lisnard said.
A French police union official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing case, said the officer was sitting in a police car around 6:30 a.m. when the attacker walked up to the vehicle and stabbed him three times in the chest.
The attacker also tried to stab another officer who stepped out of the vehicle, according to the union official, who said the assailant was shot several times by a third officer in the car and seriously injured.
Security forces have become a recurrent target for Islamist terrorists in France over the past decade.
In April, a knife-wielding Islamist extremist killed an officer at a police station about 25 miles southwest of Paris before being shot dead.
Other attacks include an Islamic State assailant who fatally stabbed an off-duty police officer and his companion, a police employee, at their home in 2016. The next year, a gunman killed a veteran police officer on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
And in 2019, in one of the worst attacks on the French police to date, a radicalized police employee stabbed four of his colleagues to death at the Paris Police Headquarters.
The French Riviera has also paid a heavy price to terror attacks. A year ago, a knife-wielding assailant killed three people in a basilica in Nice, the same city that was struck by a truck attack that left 86 people dead in 2016.
Thirty-six terrorist attacks have been thwarted by intelligence and security services since 2017, according to the French authorities.