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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, October 20, 2017

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Man shouts Allahu Akbar, stabs two women to death in France

Police sources also revealed that

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MARSEILLE, France - In what is feared to become yet another incident in the string of terror attacks that France has faced over the last two years, a man reportedly launched a brutal knife attack on two women in Marseille.

The incident on Sunday saw the assailant shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God in greatest) as he stabbed two women to death at the main railway station in the southern French port city.

According to witnesses, soldiers from France’s Sentinelle force, who were patrolling in the area, arrived on the public square at the Gare Saint-Charles station.

Soon after the attack, the assailant was shot dead by soldiers and police sources have described the incident as a “likely terrorist act.”

About 200 police officers subsequently cordoned off the area and all roads were closed to traffic.

The victims, the police said were aged 17 and 20 and had suffered gory injuries.

Police sources also revealed that the attacker had been carrying a butcher’s knife, was around 30-years-old, of North African appearance and had no identification papers on him.

They added that one of the victims had her throat slit while the other was stabbed in the stomach.

In an alert, the SNCF railway operator urged people to avoid all travel to the transport hub and some 200 trains were diverted or were waiting at regional stations.

Samia Ghali, a lawmaker for the Marseille region was quoted on France Bleu Province radio as saying, “If the military had not been there, we would have had a lot more deaths.”

Speaking to reporters, regional president Renaud Muselier said, “We have generally avoided these sorts of attacks in Marseille. I think the security services responded extremely quickly. It’s difficult to do more because when you see the distance between the two bodies and the attacker it’s only 10 meters, so they intervened quickly.”

Security forces said that the operation was still ongoing.

A spokesman for the French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said, “Anti-terrorist prosecutors have opened an enquiry, and the terrorist theory is privileged.”

France has suffered a spate of attacks by Islamist militants over the last two years, including attacks in the capital of Paris in November 2015 which left 130 people dead. 

In 2016, security forces were increasingly being targeted by militants, carrying out several knife attacks on them.

In June last year, a Frenchman who pledged allegiance to Islamic State stabbed a police commander to death outside his home and killed his partner.

On Tuesday, French lawmakers will vote on a much-criticized anti-terrorism law, which would enshrine some state-of-emergency powers into law and could reduce the number of military personnel on the ground.

Police union official Stephane Battaglia said in a statement, “The presence of Sentinelle soldiers, their speed and efficiency ensured that the death count was not bigger. Sentinelle is an essential addition to the security forces during the state of emergency and the fight against terrorism.”

France remains under a state of emergency following the series of attacks.

 

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