Fr Troy says there is a 'sort of resilience and a certain defiance' following terrorist gun attack in Paris

Fr Aiden Troy pictured at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Picture by Hugh Russell

A FORMER north Belfast priest based in Paris has told of the "resilience and a certain defiance" in the city following a suspected Islamic attack which left a police officer dead and two others injured.

Fr Aidan Troy, who moved from Holy Cross in Ardoyne to a new parish in Paris in 2008, said people were trying to get back to normal following the shooting on the busy Champs Elysees.

The gunman, who had killed one police officer and injured two other officers and a German tourist, was then shot dead by security forces.

Overnight, a property in the eastern Parisian suburb of Chelles was searched by investigators who believe the gunman, 39-year-old French man, Karim Cheurfi, was acting alone.

It emerged today that Cheurfi - who was identified from his fingerprints - was detained towards the end of February after he spoke threateningly about police. He was however released due to lack of evidence.

Fr Troy, who is the parish priest of St Joseph's Church on Avenue Hoche, which is just two streets away from the Champs Elysees, said he was out visiting parishioners when he heard about the gun attacks.

"I took the train ride back," he said.

"My local station is Champs Elysees. Once I came up from the underground, it was heavily policed. I went over to the Champs Elysees, which was in complete lockdown. There was nobody near it.

"I walked down some side streets, there was a lot of activity and ambulances.

"The police were moving people very, very fast. It was sad too because there were a lot of families staying in hotels along the Champs Elysees and they were trying to get the children home fast. The police were very patient".

Fr Troy told the Irish News that there had been "a lot of activity from police and military" in the hours before the attack because of the upcoming presidential election.

The Irish Passionist said people were today trying to carry on with life in the aftermath of the attack.

"There is sort of resilience and a certain defiance," he said.

"I was over at a school saying Mass on the outskirts of Paris and I went down the Champs Elysees.

"I walked back down where the policeman was killed. There was a big media presence. It was awful sad at the scene of someone who lost their life."

Fr Troy said however that unless police "give us any particular warning, we will carry on".

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