gare du nord
French police outside the Gare du Nord in Paris where a man wielding a knife was arrested Getty

A man wielding a knife was arrested at Paris' Gare du Nord station this afternoon (22 April) amid scenes of panic, as passengers abandoned their luggage and fled the area.

The suspect, a 20-year-old from Mali, was seen by members of the public walking into the station carrying a knife. Police were alerted and immediately apprehended him.

According to French TV network BFMTV, the man was told to lie down on the floor and did not resist arrest.

Watching the scene unfold several travellers abandoned their luggage in the middle of the station fearing a possible knife attack.

According to Mail Online a police source reported that the suspect, who was not previously known to police, claimed he was carrying the knife because he feared for his life and was not intent on harming anyone. No injuries have been reported.

The station was briefly closed before reopening around 4pm. Boarding for Eurostar trains to London was also suspended for a short time, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The Gare de Nord is one of the French capital's top transit hubs, serving the city's metro, suburban trains as well as intercity and high-speed trains like the Eurostar from London.

The incident comes just a day before the French presidential vote and follows on from a day of unrest in the capital as rioters took to the streets with tear gas and flares ahead of the election.

Tensions are high across France following the killing of police officer Xavier Jugele by Isis-inspired fanatic Karim Cheurfi at the Champs Elysee on Thursday. The 39-year-old drove his silver Audi onto the street 'targeting' officers using a Kalashnikov. A note defending so-called Islamic State (IS) was found near his body following the attack.

More than 100 wives and partners of police known as the Angry Police Wives Club took to the streets in protest at the murder of the officer.

With tensions high in the French capital, voters will go to the polls tomorrow (22 April) in the first round of the country's presidential election.