France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office will investigate a knife attack in the southeastern French town of Romans-sur-Isère on Saturday in which a man killed two people and wounded five.
In what was described as a potential terrorist attack, a knife-wielding man killed two people and wounded five others on Saturday morning in a town in southern France with only a few shops open under a national lockdown to stem the coronavirus pandemic.
The attack took place while people were out shopping. Like the rest of France, the town is currently under a coronavirus lockdown, although residents are allowed out to buy essentials.
“Preliminary investigations have revealed a determined murderous course aimed at seriously disturbing public order by intimidation or terror,” the prosecutor’s office said in the statement.
It said that a search of the home of the 33-year-old suspect of Sudanese origin, revealed documents with a religious connotation in which the author complained in particular of living in a country of “unbelievers”.
The suspect was arrested while kneeling on a sidewalk and praying in the Arabic language, the prosecutor’s office said in the statement, adding that one of his acquaintances was also arrested.
“Under these circumstances, the National Counter-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office decided to open an investigation,” it said.
The attacks took place in the morning outside a bakery where customers were queuing, and at shops in the town centre, according to Mayor Marie-Hélène Thoraval.
Witnesses told the man struck at random and in several places while moving around the town centre.
Meanwhile France is currently in lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. People are only allowed out to buy basic necessities or for exercise.
The country has been on high alert since 2015, when Paris was hit by a series of attacks attributed to the Islamic State group.