Four American college students were the victims of an acid attack at a train station in Marseilles, southern France, on Sunday.  All four victims were female, two of whom were taken two a nearby hospital, with the other two treated for shock, according to a spokeswoman for the Prefecture of Police of Bouches-du-Rhône.

According to local reports, the attacker was a 41-year-old woman who was taken into custody soon after the attack occurred.  Police do not currently believe the incident has any ties to terrorism.  The suspect, who was not identified, has “a psychiatric history,” according to the police spokeswoman.  French media has also reported that the woman may have a criminal record for violent theft.  According to police, she was hospitalized after being taken into custody.

“For now, nothing suggests that this was a terrorist attack.” She concluded.

All four of the women attacked were reportedly in their early twenties, and were in France as a part of a study abroad program through Boston College.  Three of the students, identified as Courtney Siverling, Charlotte Kaufman and Michelle Krug, are juniors participating in a study program out of Paris, with the fourth, Kelsey Kosten, attending the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.  After being treated for chemical burns, the two hospitalized women were released.  One of the women, who had some of the acid enter her eye, is reportedly still have difficulty seeing, and will likely need further treatment.

It appears that the students are fine, considering the circumstances, though they may require additional treatment for burns,” said Nick Gozik, who directs Boston College’s Office of International Programs.  “We have been in contact with the students and their parents and remain in touch with French officials and the US Embassy regarding the incident,” he said.

Although this attack has not been tied to terrorism, acid had become an increasingly common weapon of choice for terrorists and troublemakers alike in European nations with restricted access to higher profile weapons like firearms.

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Earlier this year, two teenage boys went on an acid attack-spree in London, spraying five victims in the face with acid in just 90 minutes before ultimately being taken into custody and charged with robbery and causing “grievous bodily harm.”

These attacks were also not considered terrorism related, but coincide with the recent increase in vehicle attacks in Europe, as encouraged by propaganda magazines and social media posts produced by Islamist Extremists groups.  Since 2010, there have been more than 1,800 reported acid attacks in London alone, with 458 reported just last year.    Corrosive substances, like rented box trucks, are more readily available in many nations with strict firearm and explosive control laws, because of their legitimate uses in commercial or scientific enterprises.

 

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons