PARIS — Two women were killed in southern France on Sunday by an assailant armed with a knife, in an attack that forced the evacuation of a major train station, the authorities said.
The assailant was fatally shot by a military patrol after killing the women in front of the Saint-Charles train station in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille. The attack interrupted train service and unnerved the country as it debated the government’s new security bill.
The Paris prosecutor’s office, which handles terrorism cases nationwide, said on Sunday that it had opened a terrorism investigation, but the authorities said the assailant’s motives were not entirely clear.
“This act could be of a terrorist nature, but at this hour we cannot affirm it,” said Gérard Collomb, the French Interior minister, who is in charge of domestic security.
Mr. Collomb, who arrived in Marseille on Sunday evening and spoke to reporters at the train station, did not identify the assailant or the two victims, saying only that they were “young women.”
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack several hours later, calling the assailant one of its “soldiers.”
The group’s Amaq news agency said the man had been inspired by calls to carry out attack in Western countries. In 2014, ISIS called on sympathizers to commit violence using any means available, including stabbings, in those countries whose militaries were fighting the terror group in Iraq and Syria.
The group’s claim of responsibility could not be independently verified.
Asked about reports that the attacker yelled “Allahu akbar,” or “God is greatest” in Arabic, at the moment of the attack, Jean-Claude Gaudin, the mayor of Marseille, said that “a certain number” of witnesses had said they heard him do so, but he added that they were still being interviewed by the police for further details.
“We have video images that will enable us to assess the situation,” Mr. Collomb said, referring to security camera footage in the station. “What is strange on the video is that the person starts to commit his crime on a first person, then he runs away, and then he turns back to kill the second person.”Read More...
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