Friday 17 August 2018

Islamic State claims responsibility for fatal stabbings at Marseille train station

Police, soldiers, victim and assailant are seen on the site of the attack at Saint-Charles station in Marseille. Picture: Paul-Louis Leger/NEWZULU/via REUTERS
Police, soldiers, victim and assailant are seen on the site of the attack at Saint-Charles station in Marseille. Picture: Paul-Louis Leger/NEWZULU/via REUTERS

Claude Paris and Sylvie Corbet

A knife attacker who killed two women at Marseille's main railway station reportedly shouted "Allahu akbar", Arabic for "God is great", in an attack which Islamic State group claimed was the work of one its "soldiers".

French soldiers shot the man dead after the attacks and authorities were working to determine if he had links to Islamic extremism.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, who went to Marseille to meet with local authorities and troops on the scene, said police had video showing the man attacking a woman and running away, then coming back and attacking a second woman.

Some witnesses reported hearing the assailant shout "Allahu akbar!", Arabic for "God is great", Collomb said.

The Paris prosecutor's office, which oversees all terror cases in France, said it had opened a counter-terrorism investigation into the Marseille attack.

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency said in a statement on Sunday night that the assailant was acting in response to IS calls to target countries in the US-led coalition fighting IS extremists in Syria and Iraq.

The statement did not provide details or evidence of a direct link to the attacker. France has been part of the anti-IS coalition since 2014 and has been repeatedly targeted by IS attacks.

Police sources told The Associated Press that one of the victims was stabbed and one had her throat slit. Collomb declined to provide any details about the suspect or identify the victims.

Earlier this month, four American college students were attacked with acid at the same Marseille train station. French authorities said the female assailant who doused the four Boston College students was suffering from a mental illness.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was "deeply outraged" by Sunday's "barbarous" knife attack.

In a tweet, Macron paid tribute to the French soldiers who responded "with cool heads and efficiency".

The French government this month decided to maintain the military force of 7,000 soldiers that was created to protect sensitive sites after the deadly extremist attacks of 2015.

The Saint Charles train station was evacuated and closed for several hours after the attack, and Marseille police warned people to avoid the area. The train station was partially reopened in the late afternoon.

Press Association

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