One beheaded, several hurt in France terror attack

By AFP
Published: June 26, 2015
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French police secure the entrance of the Air Products company in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon, central eastern France, on June 26, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

French police secure the entrance of the Air Products company in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon, central eastern France, on June 26, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

SAINT-QUENTIN-FALLAVIER: At least one suspected militant launched a daylight raid on a gas factory in eastern France on Friday, pinning a decapitated head to the gates and injuring at least two others with explosive devices.

“The intent was without doubt to cause an explosion. It was a terrorist attack,” said President Francois Hollande in Brussels, cutting short an EU summit to hold emergency meetings in the French capital.

Hollande said a vehicle driven at high speed by “one person, maybe accompanied by another” smashed into the factory, around 40 kilometres from Lyon, France’s second largest city.

“At the time I am speaking, there is one dead and two injured,” said a grim-faced Hollande, calling for “solidarity” for the victim, who was found with Arabic inscriptions on him.

The 35-year-old attacker, identified as Yacine Salhi, had been known to security services for a number of years but did not have a criminal record, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. He was taken into custody and an anti-terrorist probe has been launched, Cazeneuve added.

The suspect’s wife has been taken into police custody, a legal source said. Police are currently also holding another person who was seen driving up and down the gas site in a suspicious manner but has not been formally linked to the attack.

PHOTO: AFP

Cazeneuve said that the man killed in the attack was “an innocent victim who was … abjectly decapitated,” and that the victim was in the process of being identified.

The gruesome killing came nearly six months after the attacks in and around Paris that left 17 people dead and started with a shooting at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

For months, Europe has been on high-alert for so-called “lone wolf” attacks that are very difficult to prevent after Islamists urged supporters to carry out assaults wherever they could.

“There was a decapitated body with inscriptions,” said Hollande, although sources close to the enquiry said it was not clear whether the victim was transported to the site or whether the beheading was carried out at the factory site.

“A flag with Arabic writing on it was found at the scene,” said Cazeneuve, and the text was being translated.

The suspect entered the factory owned by American group Air Products and set off several small explosive devices, sources close to the investigation said, with at least two people hurt in the assault. Police said it was unclear whether the attacker was acting alone, or had accomplices.

The attack occurred around 10am local time, according to local media, in the small town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon.

“This is a small town and a large industrial zone. There’s never been any concern in the region. We’re all surprised. We’re really in shock this morning,” an employee at a nearby business told rolling news channel BMFTV.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who is on an official trip in South America, ordered security measures stepped up at all sensitive sites in the area.

‘Link’ to Salafist movement

The attacker had a “link” to the Salafist movement, Cazeneuve added, stressing that the investigation was in its early stages.

The suspect was investigated nine years ago for radicalisation and has links to the Salafist movement, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

“He was investigated in 2006 for radicalisation, but (the probe) was not renewed in 2008. He had no criminal record,” Cazeneuve said.

“This individual has links with the Salafist movement, but had not been identified as having participated in activities of a terrorist nature,” added the minister who rushed to the scene in eastern France.

Cazeneuve identified the suspect as Yacine Salhi who was known to have lived in the area of Lyon.

World leaders react

World leaders began reacting to the news only a few hours after the attack.

“I firmly condemn the attack carried out in Lyon. Barbarism will always be confronted by unity among democrats. #Spain with #France,” Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy wrote in a message on Twitter.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his country stands united with France against “terror’s blind hate” and in defence of “free society”.

Steinmeier said he was appalled by the “shocking news of a heinous murder and an assault with several injured”.

He called it an “act of terror and fanaticism which we condemn in the strongest terms”.

Controversial spying law

Earlier this week, the country passed a controversial new spying law granting sweeping powers to snoop on citizens.

The new French law allows authorities to spy on the digital and mobile communications of anyone linked to a “terrorist” inquiry without prior authorisation from a judge, and forces Internet service providers and phone companies to give up data upon request.

Intelligence services will have the right to place cameras and recording devices in private dwellings and install “keylogger” devices that record every key stroke on a targeted computer in real time.

France has a high proportion of people that have gone to fight alongside militant groups in Iraq and Syria and has the biggest Muslim population in Europe.

Israel urges French Jews to flee after factory attack

An Israeli minister on Friday urged French Jews to flee to the Jewish state after the attack in France.

“I call on the Jews of France – come home! Anti-Semitism is rising, terror is increasing,” immigration minister Zeev Elkin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party said in a statement.

“This is a national mission of the highest priority.”

“The intent was without doubt to cause an explosion. It was a terrorist attack,” said French President Francois Hollande in Brussels, cutting short an EU summit to chair emergency meetings in the French capital.

Netanyahu sparked controversy by encouraging French Jews to move to Israel in the wake of January’s Paris attacks that left 17 dead, including four at a Jewish supermarket.

 

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Stranger
    Jun 26, 2015 - 4:04PM

    Hatred begets hatred / suspicion begets suspicion … But what to do . we are all caught in a quagmore . who will take the first step ? Recommend

  • Zeeshan Hanif
    Jun 26, 2015 - 5:05PM

    We should be suspicious of what we read in the news. These are false flag operations. If you go to wikileaks you will see evidence of these operations.Recommend

  • Gunther
    Jun 26, 2015 - 5:05PM

    Islamist terror is getting out of control. The authorities have to cut down on immigration otherwise Europe will burn. Muslim youth can’t get a job and they do not have relevant education. They are ripe for picking by terrorist groups like the Islamic State. They basically have nothing to lose since their life is a struggle.Recommend

  • Ammar
    Jun 26, 2015 - 5:56PM

    At Gunther
    The attack took place in Tunisia. What has that got to do with immigration?Recommend

  • ZAK
    Jun 26, 2015 - 8:22PM

    France and Germany two very good industalised counties of EU.The Muslim world get great technological support from
    these countries.

    Those involved in such coward act are against this cooperation.

    We all should unite against all kind of terrorist and extremism.Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Jun 26, 2015 - 9:58PM

    @Zeeshan Hanif:
    WOW, you say “false flag operation”!!!
    So was the accused attacker now in custody an “agent” (for some foreign power) pretending to be a Muslim radical terrorist????? Waiting for your next conspiracy theory!
    @Ammar
    Since when is the mentioned attack location in Tunisia?? Recommend

  • Assad Khan
    Jun 26, 2015 - 11:46PM

    This world has become a strange place.Recommend

  • Jun 27, 2015 - 12:36AM

    I wonder why people of other Religions do not indulge in such acts.

    Maybe its time to blame the ideology. After all years of blaming poverty, education and all other factors have proved nothing. Obviously neither Poverty nor lack of Education creates Terrorists, for poverty and illiteracy is rampant in India as well; but, Indians don’t indulge in such things.

    Admitting there is a problem with an ideology is tough for people who have been taught since they were children that this ideology is perfect and other ideologies wrong. People of other Religions don’t agree. A mother can never accept her son is a thief, unattached people have no such baggage.Recommend

  • Hilary Stookey
    Jun 27, 2015 - 5:54PM

    Again, we hear the call for Jews in France to ‘come home’ in the face of rising anti-semitism. Actually this awful attack was NOT an example of anti-semitism. But Israel’s immigration minister Zeev Elkin, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did in January (causing controversy), quickly encourages French Jews to move to Israel and he does so for a particular reason. One has to almost smile at the deception. It is not because of a huge maternalistic concern for the welfare of Jews over there in France, it is because everybody in Israel knows all too well that into the future the Jewish population is going to become a minority against the number of Palestinians. It is therefore rather useful for Israel that French Jews should feel threatened. Its politicians have used such opportunities to issue scare-mongering statements like “I call on the Jews of France – come home! Anti-Semitism is rising, terror is increasing,” and “This is a national mission of the highest priority”. But those concerns are insidious at their base. And they always have been. And those like the Ethiopian Jews who have moved to Israel, don’t necessarily find the grass is greener on the other side, because the Israeli political climate only welcomes most of them superficially – even going to the lengths of sterilizing the women without them knowing. I guess the Israeli government suddenly decided that wasn’t such a good idea after all, to encourage Ethiopian Jews to migrate. However, it is unlikely that French Jews would be presented with that problem. One hopes. One hopes they are very much encouraged to stay put. It enriches all countries to have diversity. Recommend

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