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03 October 2017, 01:25 | Tara Lloyd
Passengers wait while a police officer gestures outside Marseille's main train station as French police officers patrol
At least one person was stabbed to death and another seriously wounded at Marseille's main train station in southern France on Sunday, police sources said, in what one of them said was a "terrorist act". Soldiers and police took up positions outside the station. The victims were cousins from Lyon, both aged 20, BBC reported.
France has been the Western country hardest hit by Islamic terror attacks in recent years.
The motive for the attack was unclear, but the Paris prosecutor's office, which handles terrorism cases nationwide, said on Sunday that it had opened a terrorism investigation.
French police officers block access on the stairs leading to Marseille's main train station
Many trains were cancelled and people were told to avoid taking routes from the area.
The soldiers at the station were part of Operation Sentinelle, which involves widespread army foot patrols as a deterrent measure after a series of terrorist attacks in France since early 2015. The soldiers belonging to the force shot dead the attacker on the spot. Witnesses said he shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest).
Witnessess say he looked to be running away, but returned to attack a second woman and then rushed towards soldiers who had just arrived on the scene. The 41-year-old woman who attacked them was later arrested and police said she had a "psychiatric history".
On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed "deep indignation for the barbarous act", and saluted the police and soldiers "who reacted with sang-froid and efficiency".
France is a leading partner in the US-led worldwide coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, where the jihadists are being driven back. Saint Charles is a busy rail hub, and is also the station from where high-speed trains leave for Paris. Anti-terrorism authorities were investigating and Interior Minister Gerard Collomb was at the site. The suspect reportedly slit one woman's throat before repeatedly stabbing another woman to death.
The statement issued in Arabic said the attacker "implemented the operation as an answer to the call of targeting the coalition countries".
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