One person has been beheaded and two people injured in a terrorist attack at a gas factory near Lyon in southeastern France, French President Francois Hollande said Friday. The suspect’s contacts with Muslim fundamentalists, and reports that Islamist flags or writings were found at the scene, point to an Islamist extremist motive.
The shocking incident comes on the same day as both Tunisia and Kuwait were hit by terrorist attacks, the latter an apparent blast at a Shiite mosque claimed by ISIS. In Tunisia, at least 19 people were killed in the assault on a beachfront hotel in Sousse, Tunisia’s interior minister said, according to the state-run TAP news agency. In a televised address from a summit in Brussels, Belgium, Hollande called the French incident a “pure terrorist attack.”
Hollande said a body had been found, along with a severed head with a message. A suspect has been arrested and identified, he said.
The victim of what Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve described as a “barbarous” attack has not yet been publicly identified. U.S. firm Air Products & Chemicals, which owns the factory, said all its employees were accounted for.
Cazeneuve, speaking at the scene of the attack, said the suspect, who was from the Lyon area, was “somebody who was in touch with (Muslim fundamentalist) Salafists.” An intelligence report was opened on the man in 2006 because of suspected radicalization, he said, but this was not renewed in 2008. “He has been under surveillance, but he was not known as being involved in any terrorist act,” Cazeneuve said. French authorities are “investigating any other people that could be accomplices,” he added.
“The dangerous elements were neutralized immediately after the crime was committed,” he said.