Knifeman yelling 'Allahu Akbar' shot dead after killing 2 in France


MARSEILLE, France/PARIS, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Two women were stabbed to death and their assailant shot dead by a soldier in the southern French port city of Marseille on Sunday in what officials described as a "likely terrorist act."

Police sources said the suspect had shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) in Arabic as he attacked the women, aged 17 and 20, at Marseille's main railway station.

Two police sources said one had her throat slit while the other was stabbed in the chest and stomach.

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Stabbing attack in Marseille
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Stabbing attack in Marseille
Police secure the area outside the Saint-Charles train station after French soldiers shot an killed a man after he stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Police secure the area outside the Saint-Charles train station after French soldiers shot an killed a man after he stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Emergency services vehicles are seen outside the Saint-Charles train station after French soldiers shot and killed a man who stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
French police point a gun at a man on the ground while soldiers secure the area following an attack on October 1, 2017 at the Saint-Charles main train station in the French Mediterranean city of Marseille. A suspected Islamist knifeman killed two women at the main train station in Marseille on October 1 before being shot dead by soldiers on patrol, local officials and police said. / AFP PHOTO / Paul-Louis LEGER / ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read PAUL-LOUIS LEGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Travellers gather as at police secure the access to the Saint-Charles train station after French soldiers shot and killed a man who stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
French police officers work outside Saint-Charles train station in Marseille on October 1, 2017, after a suspected Islamist knifeman killed two women before being shot by soldiers patrolling the area. One of the victims was fatally stabbed while the other had her throat slit by the assailant who is believed to have shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) at the start of his rampage, a source close to the investigation told AFP on condition of anonymity. Soldiers posted in the station as part of a special force set up to guard vulnerable areas in terror-hit France responded to the stabbings in front of the station and shot the man dead, local officials said. / AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
French police officers work outside Saint-Charles train station in Marseille on October 1, 2017, after a suspected Islamist knifeman killed two women before being shot by soldiers patrolling the area. One of the victims was fatally stabbed while the other had her throat slit by the assailant who is believed to have shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) at the start of his rampage, a source close to the investigation told AFP on condition of anonymity. Soldiers posted in the station as part of a special force set up to guard vulnerable areas in terror-hit France responded to the stabbings in front of the station and shot the man dead, local officials said. / AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
People wait outside Saint-Charles train station in Marseille on October 1, 2017, after a suspected Islamist knifeman killed two women before being shot by soldiers patrolling the area. One of the victims was fatally stabbed while the other had her throat slit by the assailant who is believed to have shouted 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) at the start of his rampage, a source close to the investigation told AFP on condition of anonymity. Soldiers posted in the station as part of a special force set up to guard vulnerable areas in terror-hit France responded to the stabbings in front of the station and shot the man dead, local officials said. / AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND LANGLOIS (Photo credit should read BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb speaks to the media outside the Saint-Charles train station after French soldiers shot and killed a man who stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Travellers walk past French police and soldiers who secure a street near the Saint-Charles train station (Rear) after French soldiers shot and killed a man who stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
A traveller walks past a soldier and policeman who secure a street near the Saint-Charles train station after French soldiers shot and killed a man who stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Travellers walk past French police and soldiers who secure a street near the Saint-Charles train station (Rear) after French soldiers shot and killed a man who stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Soldiers gather outside the Saint-Charles train station after French soldiers shot and killed a man who stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
French police and soldier secure a street near the Saint-Charles train station after French soldiers shot and killed a man who stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Police investigators (R) work outside the Saint-Charles train station after French soldiers shot and killed a man who stabbed two women to death at the main train station in Marseille, France, October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
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An Islamic State militant was responsible for the attack, the group's Amaq news agency said.

The assailant was shot dead by a soldier from a military Sentinelle patrol, a force deployed across the country as part of a state of emergency declared after Islamist attacks that began almost two years ago.

"We have until now managed to avoid such dramatic incidents (in Marseille). I think it was a terrorist attack and the individual who was killed seems to have had several identities," Marseille mayor Jean-Claude Gaudin told reporters.

Paris was rocked in 2015 by multiple attacks that killed 130 people. In 2016 a gunman drove a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 86 people. Both of these attacks were claimed by Islamic State.

RELATED: Paris terror attack scene, shootings, bombings

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Paris terror attack scene, shootings, bombings
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People run after hearing what is believed to be explosions or gun shots near Place de la Republique square in Paris on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed in several shootings and explosions in Paris today, police said. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Spectators gather on the pitch of the Stade de France stadium following the friendly football match between France and Germany in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on November 13, 2015, after a series of gun attacks occurred across Paris as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. At least 18 people were killed, with at least 15 people killed at the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, only around 200 metres from the former offices of Charlie Hebdo which were attacked by jihadists in January. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: French officials and medics work near Le Petit Cambodge restaurant in the 11th district after a drive-by shooting killing 11 people, November 14, 2015, Paris, France. At least 142 people were killed deadly shootings and explosions took place in several neighbourhoods of Paris. 1,500 troops deployed in French capital says Elysse. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Two men evacuate the Place de la Republique square in Paris as a police officer looks on, after several shootings on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed in several shootings and explosions in Paris today, police said. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 13: Police survey the area of Boulevard Baumarchais after an attack in the French capital on November 13, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 18 people were killed in a series of gun attacks across Paris, as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. (Photo by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images)
Rescuers rush to the scene following an attack in the 10th arrondissement of the French capital Paris, on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed as multiple shootings and explosions hit Paris, police said. Police also said there was an ongoing hostage crisis in the Bataclan a concert hall in the French capital. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: French officials and medics work near Le Petit Cambodge restaurant in the 11th district after a drive-by shooting killing 11 people, November 14, 2015, Paris, France. At least 142 people were killed deadly shootings and explosions took place in several neighbourhoods of Paris. 1,500 troops deployed in French capital says Elysse. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A firefighter attend to an injured person lying on a stretcher near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, on November 14, 2015. At least 39 people were killed in an 'unprecedented' series of bombings and shootings across Paris and at the Stade de France stadium on November 13. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
People are evacuated by bus, near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, on November 14, 2015. More than 100 people were killed in a mass hostage-taking at a Paris concert hall on November 13 and many more were feared dead in a series of bombings and shootings, as France declared a national state of emergency. AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: U.S. President Barack Obama departs the White House briefing room after delivering remarks on the recent violence taking place in Paris, France November 13, 2015 in Washington, DC. Gunfire and explosions erupted in the French capital with early casualty reports indicating at least 60 dead. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Football fans leave the Stade de France stadium following the friendly football match between France and Germany in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on November 13, 2015, after a series of gun attacks occurred across Paris as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. At least 18 people were killed, with at least 15 people killed at the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, only around 200 metres from the former offices of Charlie Hebdo which were attacked by jihadists in January. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
supporters run in panic on the pitch during the International friendly match between France and Germany on November 13, 2015 at the Stade France in Paris, France.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
Police are seen outside a cafe-restaurant in 10th arrondissement of the French capital Paris, on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed as multiple shootings and explosions hit Paris, police said. Police also said there was an ongoing hostage crisis in the Bataclan a concert hall in the French capital. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
A policeman stands behind a cordon blocking the street near the site of an attack in a restaurant in Paris on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed in multiple attacks in Paris Friday, including one near the Stade de France sports stadium and another at a concert venue. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
A victim lies on the ground covered by a white sheet (Rear L) as special police work at the attack scene rue Bichat, in central Paris, early on November 14, 2015. More than 100 people were killed in a mass hostage-taking at a Paris concert hall late on November 13 and many more were feared dead in a series of bombings and shootings, as France declared a national state of emergency. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters and rescuers evacuate injured people near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, on November 14, 2015. At least 39 people were killed in an 'unprecedented' series of bombings and shootings across Paris and at the Stade de France stadium on November 13. AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
People are evacuated following an attack at the Bataclan concert venue in Paris, on November 13, 2015. At least 18 people were killed in multiple attacks in Paris Friday, including one near the Stade de France sports stadium. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
Forensic experts inspect the site of an attack outside the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, early on November 14, 2015, after a series of gun attacks occurred across Paris as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. A number of people were killed and others injured in a series of gun attacks across Paris, as well as explosions outside the national stadium where France was hosting Germany. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Other countries, including Britain, Germany and Belgium, have also suffered attacks by militants using knives, guns, explosives and driving vehicles at crowds.

Some 200 police officers cordoned off the area and all roads were closed to traffic.

A witness told Reuters she saw a man take out a knife from his sleeve and then stab a young girl and then a second woman, shouting what could have been "Allahu Akbar."

"BARBARIC ACT" 

Speaking in Marseille, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the man had initially killed one woman and looked to be running away before returning to attack a second woman and then rush towards soldiers from the Sentinelle force who arrived on the scene quickly and shot him dead.

Two police sources said the attacker had been carrying a butcher's knife, was around 30 years old and of North African appearance. One source said he was known to police for common law crimes, while another said digital analysis of fingerprints had come up with several aliases.

"This could be an act of terrorism, but we cannot confirm it fully at this stage," Collomb told reporters.

French troops are part of a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and has thousands of soldiers in West Africa fighting al Qaeda-linked militants, operations that have made these groups urge their followers to target France.

Security forces have increasingly been targeted by militants in knife attacks. A man wielding a knife attacked a soldier in a Paris metro station on Sept. 15.

President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter he was "disgusted by this barbaric act" and praised the calmness and efficiency of security forces.

French lawmakers are due to vote on a much-criticized anti-terrorism law on Tuesday, which would see France come out of its state-of-emergency in November, although some of the powers would be enshrined into law.

The number of military personnel on the ground is also due to be reduced slightly, although the force is being adapted to make it more mobile and its movements less predictable.

"The presence of Sentinelle soldiers, their speed and efficiency ensured that the death count was not bigger," police union official Stephane Battaglia told Reuters.

 

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