PARIS — In what was described as a possible terrorist assault, a knife-wielding man killed two individuals and wounded 5 others on Saturday morning in a city in southern France with only some retailers open underneath a nationwide lockdown to stem the coronavirus pandemic.
The assailant randomly attacked bystanders on the road, first slitting the throat of a person in his 40s in entrance of his companion and his son, within the heart of Romans-sur-Isère, simply south of Lyon, in keeping with the French authorities and information media.
He then attacked two staff and a buyer inside a tobacco retailer earlier than heading to a butcher’s store.
The suspect, a 33-year-old man of Sudanese origin, was arrested by the police as he was “found on his knees on the sidewalk while praying in Arabic,’’ said the country’s antiterrorism prosecutor’s office, which is handling the investigation into the attack.
At the man’s home, investigators found religious writings in which the author complained of living in a “country of infidels,’’ the prosecutors said in a statement.
An acquaintance of the man was also arrested in connection with the attacks, the prosecutors said.
The suspect — who the French news media said was an asylum-seeker from Sudan — was not immediately identified by name.
The attacks took place about 11 a.m. local time outside a bakery and other shops. Witnesses said that the suspect yelled, “Allahu akbar!’’ as he lunged at his victims, according to France Bleu.
During a visit to the town on Saturday afternoon, Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, indicated that the authorities believed the attack had been terrorist-related, saying that “a man undertook a terrorist path by killing two people.”
President Emmanuel Macron vowed that “light would be shed on this odious act which casts a shadow on our country, which has already been severely tested in recent weeks.”
The assault occurred on the 19th day of a nationwide lockdown to examine the coronavirus outbreak, which has contaminated greater than 83,000 and killed 6,500 in France, together with fatalities each in hospitals and retirement properties. France is the hardest-hit European nation after Italy and Spain.
The heart of Romans-sur-Isère would virtually actually have had extra individuals on a traditional Saturday spring morning. Under the lockdown, individuals are allowed to go away their properties solely to do sure issues and should fill out a type to justify their actions. Essential companies — like supermarkets, bakeries and butcher’s and cheese shops — stay open, however individuals should store alone.
Because of the city’s proximity to Italy, the authorities have additionally imposed a curfew forbidding individuals from going outdoors between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Last yr, France recorded the best variety of asylum-seekers in Europe, most of them from Afghanistan, Albania and sub-Saharan Africa. Many got here to France in search of asylum after having had their software rejected abroad of the European Union.
With inadequate authorities housing, many asylum-seekers, particularly single males, are squatting in deserted buildings in situations made more and more precarious by the worldwide pandemic.