Two dead in France stabbing attack

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Paris (AFP)

A man went on the rampage with a knife in a town in southeastern France on Saturday, killing two people and wounding five in what President Emmanuel Macron called "an odious act".

The reasons behind the attack remain unclear although Interior Minister Christophe Castaner spoke of the suspect's "terrorist journey".

The assailant, understood to be a refugee from Sudan, was arrested after the attack in the town of Romans-sur-Isere.

Armed with a knife, the suspect went into a tobacco shop where he attacked the owner, town mayor Marie-Helene Thoraval told AFP.

"His wife got involved and she was wounded as well," she said.

The assailant then went into a butcher's shop where he took another knife before heading to the town centre where he entered another store.

"He took a knife, jumped over the counter, and stabbed a customer, then ran away", the shop owner Ludovic Breyton told AFP.

"My wife tried to help the victim but in vain."

According to witnesses cited by the local radio station France Bleu Drome Ardeche, the attacker shouted "Allah Akbar!" as he attacked his victims.

David Olivier Reverdy, assistant national secretary of the National Police Alliance union, said the assailant had called on police to kill him when they came to arrest him.

"All the ingredients of a terrorist act are there," he told BFMTV.

Macron was quick to denounce the attack on Twitter.

"All the light will be shed on this odious act which casts a shadow over our country which has already been hit hard in recent weeks," he said.

France is in its third week of a lockdown aimed at stemming the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Castaner also condemned the attack when he visited the site.

"This morning, a man embarked on a terrorist journey," he said, adding that it would be the job of the National Counter-Terrorism Prosecutor's Office (PNAT) to determine whether the attacker was part of a group or acting alone.

burs/bsp/txw