French authorities have launched an investigation into a knife rampage in a town in southeastern France that killed two people and injured five others in what is being treated as a “terror” attack.
The French anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office said in a statement that the probe would look into the assault during which a knife-wielding attacker — a 33-year-old man of Sudanese origin — went on a stabbing spree in the southeastern French town of Romans-sur-Isere on Saturday.
Attacks took place in the morning outside a bakery where customers were lining up and also at several shops in the town’s center, with witnesses telling Reuters that the man struck at random.
The suspect, speaking in Arabic, was arrested while kneeling on a sidewalk, the prosecutor’s office said in the statement, adding that one of his acquaintances was also arrested.
“Under these circumstances, the National Counter-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office decided to open an investigation,” the statement said. “Preliminary investigations have revealed a determined murderous course aimed at seriously disturbing public order by intimidation or terror.”
French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the attack in a statement on Twitter, and Interior Minister Cristophe Castaner called it a “terrorist journey.”
The French town of Romans-sur-Isere, like the rest of the country, is currently on a coronavirus lockdown, with all but essential businesses ordered to shut and people told to stay at home.