French police on Friday arrested a man suspected of opening fire and wielding a knife on a high-speed train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, critically wounding two people.
According to the Paris prosecutor’s office, the suspect – who was armed with a knife and an automatic firearm -- was overpowered by two military personnel who were on board before he was arrested as the Thalys train stopped in Arras, 185 kilometres north of Paris.
Investigators from France's special anti-terror police are leading the investigation into the attack, which occurred just before 6pm local time.
National railway operator SNCF said that all passengers had been evacuated and that police had secured the area.
A statement from French President François Hollande’s office said that two of the victims were in critical condition.
Local newspaper “La Voix du Nord” reported that French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade had been onboard the train, sustaining light injuries to his hand.
Interior ministry spokesman, Pierre Henry Brandet, told broadcaster BFM TV that although the motive for the shooting is still unclear, “talking about a terrorist motive would be premature at the moment”.
Bernard Cazeneuve speaking after the shooting inside the Thalys Amsterdam-Paris train
Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has called the train shooting a "terrorist attack".
The suspect is believed to be a 26-year-old man who is known to intelligence services, a police source said.
In a news conference near the scene at a railway station in Arras, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the two passengers who overpowered the suspect were “particularly courageous and showed extreme bravery in extremely difficult circumstances”.
There was some confusion as to the nationality of the two servicemen who restrained the attacker, with some reports suggesting they were both American. Other reports said one of them was American while the other was British.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2015-08-21