French security officials have detained a third person in connection to a knife attack south of Lyon that left two people dead and five others wounded, one of them in critical condition, authorities reported on Sunday.
French anti-terror prosecutors said that the third arrest was made late on Saturday night and that all three of the suspects are Sudanese.
On Saturday, in the small town of Romans-sur-Isère, an unnamed assailant went on a rampage. French citizens, who have been in lockdown during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, were out in the streets conducting their permitted daily food shopping.
That is when the attacker attacked a family in the center of Romans-sur-Isère. He slit the throat of the father in front of the man’s wife and son. According to the mayor of Romans-sur-Irène, the assailant then went into a tobacco shop attacked the owner. The owner’s wife stepped in and was also injured. He then entered a nearby butcher’s shop and took another knife.
Ludovic Breyton, the owner of the butcher’s said, “He came into the shop. He jumped over the counter, took the knife and stuck it in a customer, then he ran out. My wife tried to help the victim, but there was nothing she could do.”
France’s counter-terrorism prosecutor’s office said that the police arrested the assailant just minutes later as he was kneeling on the sidewalk praying in Arabic. A member of the National Police Alliance-Union, David Reverdy said the suspect asked the policemen to kill him. Police also detained one of his acquaintances.
One of the stores (Associated Press).
The assailant had no identification documents but he said that he is Sudanese and was born in 1987. According to the French police, the arrested man is an immigrant and an asylum seeker from Sudan. Prior to this spree, he was unknown to the police. He had been in France since 2017.
The police then searched the assailant’s home where “handwritten documents with religious connotations were found.” Included in those documents were arguments about religion and a complaint about living in a “country of unbelievers.”
President Emmanuel Macron described the attack as an “odious” incident that has shocked a country that is already going through the ordeal of the coronavirus pandemic. He vowed that “light will be shed” on the attack.
“My thoughts are with the victims of the Romans-sur-Isère attack — the injured, their families,” he posted on Twitter.
The local authorities, along with the national anti-terror police, are investigating the attack. Yet, so far it seems that the attack is not connected to a terrorist organization. France has seen dozens such attacks from asylum seekers in the past few years.