Islamic State claim responsibility for Marseilles knife attack

Two women were killed and the attacker was later shot dead by soldiers on patrol.

France Knife Attack French police officer cordons off the access to Marseille's main train station yesterday. AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

THE ISLAMIC STATE group has claimed responsibility for the killings in Marseille yesterday, in which an attacker killed two women at the main train station.

The man was later shot dead by soldiers on patrol.

One of the victims had her throat slit by the assailant, a man with a criminal record believed to be in his 30s who witnesses said shouted “Allahu Akbar” at the start of his rampage.

Troops serving in a special 7,000-strong force known as Sentinelle set up to guard vulnerable areas in terror-hit France responded to the stabbings and shot dead the attacker, whose identity remains unknown.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said about a dozen witnesses were being questioned.

“This act could be terrorist in nature but at this time we cannot confirm that,” he added.

“I was on the esplanade just in front of the station,” Melanie Petit, an 18-year-old student, told AFP. “I heard someone shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ and I saw a man who seemed to be dressed all in black.”

France Knife Attack French police officers block access on the stairs leading to Marseille's main train station. AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

Later, IS’s Amaq propaganda agency cited a “security source” saying: “The executor of the stabbing operation in the city of Marseille… is from the soldiers of the Islamic State.”

During the incident, heavily armed police sealed off and evacuated the ornate rail terminus in the bustling heart of France’s second-biggest city, stopping all train traffic on some of the country’s busiest lines.

Travellers around the station described “controlled panic” as security forces evacuated passengers and looked for possible accomplices, while another witness said white sheets were placed over the bodies of the victims.

The two victims remained unidentified but were both “around 20 years old,” a police source said.

The assailant was known to the authorities for a string of common law offences and had “no papers on him,” one source told AFP.

He was identified by his fingerprints after being shot dead.

© – AFP 2017

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