MORE details have emerged about a frenzied knife attack that killed two women at a train station in the French Mediterranean city of Marseille.
THE Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a knife attack that killed two women at the main train station in the French Mediterranean city of Marseille.
The monitoring group SITE quoted an Arabic language report on the group’s Amaq propaganda agency that cited a “security source” as saying: “The executor of the stabbing operation in the city of Marseille... is from the soldiers of the Islamic State.”
It comes after a suspected Islamist knifeman killed two women at the main train station in the French Mediterranean port city of Marseille before being shot and killed by patrolling soldiers.
“Two victims have been stabbed to death,” regional police chief Olivier de Mazieres told AFP, referring to the attack which occurred Saint-Charles station about 1.45pm Sunday local time.
The knifeman is believed to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) before assaulting passers-by, a source close to the investigation told AFP on condition of anonymity.
One of the victims had her throat slit, according to officials, with the stabbing rampage sparking a mass evacuation.
France’s Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the attack might have been terrorism but it was not yet confirmed.
He said about a dozen witnesses were being questioned about the incident at the city’s main railway station.
“This act could be terrorist in nature but at this time we cannot confirm that,” he said.
Mr Collomb said video of the attack shows a man attacking one woman, running away, then coming back and attacking a second woman. He said the assailant then ran toward soldiers who were rushing to the scene.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron said he was “deeply outraged” by the “barbarous” attack, and paid tribute to the French soldiers assigned to domestic security who responded with cool heads and efficiency.
WITNESSES DESCRIBE HORROR
Terrified rail passengers have described the knifeman’s horrific attack.
Local journalist Melanie told France Info: “There was a group of people sitting on one of the benches, about 100-150 metres from me. I heard screams and saw a man who was sitting on the bench falling to the ground. I heard the attacker with a knife screaming ‘Allahu Akbar!’ and I saw him trying to attack other people.”
Another witness reported hearing two shots which triggered panic, adding that people were telling each other to run.
The witness reportedly saw a lady on the floor before soldiers told people to leave.
A police source said many people witnessed the “frenzied” stabbings.
He added: “The man first shouted threats, and then launched into the two women. The two were killed by a knife, and then soldier on anti-terrorism duties intervened. They shot the man dead.” said the source.
Michelle Karam tweeted: “Just left Marseilles train station after being evacuated. My heart aches for the two women who were attacked. One killed. I hate this.”
FRANCE ON HIGH ALERT
The deaths came with France still on high alert following a string of terror attacks since January 2015, when jihadist gunmen stormed the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, killing 12.
The government has since launched Operation Sentinelle, deploying about 7000 troops across the country to guard high-risk areas such as transport hubs, tourist sites and religious buildings.
Attacks by Islamist extremists since 2015 have left 239 people dead in France, according to an AFP count before Sunday’s incident.
After a rampage by Islamic State gunmen through Paris in November 2015, Francois Hollande, president at the time, declared a state of emergency which remains in place, giving security forces greater powers to use force and launch anti-terror raids.
Mr Hollande’s successor Emmanuel Macron has vowed to end the state of emergency with a new and controversial security law that will make many of the provisions of the state of emergency permanent.
Despite criticism from rights groups, the lower house of parliament is set to vote on a first draft of the law on Tuesday.