A man stabbed two women to death on Sunday at the main train station in the southern French city of Marseille before he was shot and killed by French soldiers. Witnesses claim the assailant yelled “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” as he launched the attack on the women, aged 17 and 20.
Police said the incident was “likely a terrorist act” and the Paris prosecutor’s office that oversees all of the country’s terrorism-related cases opened a counterterrorism investigation. But officials also took pains to emphasize the circumstances of the attack were far from clear. “It might be a terrorist act, but at this point we can’t say so with certainty, so I prefer to wait and see,” said Gérard Collomb, the French Interior minister.
The ISIS-linked Amaq news agency said the attacker was an Islamic State militant although it provided no proof for the claim. One of the victims was stabbed to the death while the other had her throat slit, according to police. The attacker was reportedly in his 30s and sources told AFP he had a criminal record. While he didn’t have any documents on him, police were able to identify him by his fingerprints.
French President Emmanuel Macron took to Twitter to say that he was “deeply outraged by this barbaric act.”
Since 2015, jihadists had killed 239 people in France before Sunday, according to a count by AFP.