A fatal knife attack in the south-east of France that left two people dead is being investigated by France’s anti-terror police.
Early on Saturday morning in the centre of the town of Romans-sur-Isère, near Lyon, a man of Sudanese origin killed two people and injured another five before being arrested by police. Two of those injured are in critical condition.
According to the mayor of the town, Mayor Marie-Hélène Thoraval, the attack began with an assault on the owner of a tobacconist before the man ran into a butchers shop, grabbed another knife and stabbed a customer. He then attacked people on the street and outside a bakery.
“Those who were unlucky enough to be in his way were attacked,” Ms Thoraval told French news agency AFP.
France’s anti-terror office say the attack began around 10.45am and that the man, who was born in 1987, was arrested fifteen minutes later after being “found on his knees on the pavement praying in Arabic.”
“Initial investigations have brought to light evidence of a murderous rampage aimed at seriously disturbing public order by intimidation or terror,” said the anti-terror investigators in a statement.
They added that during a search of his house documents were found “with a religious connotation in which the author complains in particular of living in a country of unbelievers.”
One of the attacker’s acquaintances is also in police custody.
“We will shed all light on this odious act which brings more grief to our country which has already suffered so badly in recent weeks,” said French president Emmanuel Macron in response to the attack. France is in its third week of lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 7,560 people in the country.
France has been hit by numerous large-scale attacks over the past years, including at the Bataclan theatre in November 2015 when extremists killed 130 people in the deadliest Islamist terror attack to strike France.
Last year in the centre of Paris, an IT specialist with security clearance killed four of his colleagues at the capital’s police headquarters.