France school attack/AFP
The attack came almost three years to the day after the October 16, 2020 beheading of teacher Samuel Paty. AFP

Schools across France will on Monday hold a minute of silence for the teacher stabbed to death in what President Emmanuel Macron called an act of "Islamist terror".

The nationwide tribute will come a day after thousands gathered in Arras, northeastern France to pay their respects to 57-year-old Dominique Bernard.

His killing on Friday has sent shockwaves through the country and led to calls for tighter security at schools. The government has already put the country on high alert and deployed 7,000 troops.

The attack in Arras, home to large Jewish and Muslim populations, came against a backdrop of growing conflict in the Middle East.

The suspected perpetrator, a 20-year-old Russian man, has been arrested for the killing and for having also seriously wounded three others at the school he used to attend.

"Arras is being tested, but Arras is standing ... we are standing," mayor Frederic Leturque told a crowd of more than 5,000 people gathered in the central square Sunday.

Of those wounded, one who was hospitalised with the most serious injuries "seems to be better", a source close to the matter told AFP.

The attack came almost three years to the day after the October 16, 2020 beheading of teacher Samuel Paty near his school in a Paris suburb.

"It's unbearable to have to relive the same fright," said Catherine Piecuch of the FSU education union. "The state must take all measures to ensure the protection of staff and students."

Monday's minute of silence in French schools will take place at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT).

Education Minister Gabriel Attal told broadcaster TF1 Sunday that local authorities would meet next week to discuss security at schools. He suggested they should "go further" in providing security guards and video surveillance.

Clotilde Mienville, a teacher in Arras, said she did not know how she would approach the subject with her students.

Some of them were "shocked, traumatised", she said, as they had older siblings at the affected school. "They need to be given a chance to express themselves," she added.

Nine people were still in custody Sunday, including suspected perpetrator Mohammed Moguchkov, born in Russia's predominantly Muslim North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia. According to a police source, he arrived in France aged five.

A police source told AFP that since his arrest, he had not explained what had happened.

Moguchkov was already on a French national register as a potential security threat and was being monitored by domestic intelligence agency the DGSI, because of his links with his father who was deported in 2018, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

A day before the attack, the DGSI had briefly questioned him, Darmanin said Saturday, while dismissing "a breach of intelligence services".

Darmanin has called for the "systemic expulsion of all foreigners... considered dangerous by the intelligence services", referring to a growing "an atmosphere of jihadism" since Hamas's deadly attack on Israel last week.

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