Gunman on French train may be suspected Moroccan Islamist

French interior minister: Suspect is possibly a 26-year-old man of Moroccan descent identified to Spanish, French authorities in 2014 as having ties to radical Islamic groups.

August 22, 2015 16:05
1 minute read.
French investigating police in protective clothing prepare to enter Thalys high-speed train

French investigating police in protective clothing prepare to enter Thalys high-speed train . (photo credit: REUTERS)

The perpetrator of a shooting attack on a French train on Friday may be a Moroccan identified in 2014 to French police by Spanish intelligence services as having Islamist militant connections, France's Interior Minister said on Saturday.

"It is important to be careful about his identity which is not yet established with certainty," the minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said.

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But he added: "If the identity he has declared is confirmed, he is a 26-year-old man of Moroccan nationality identified by the Spanish authorities to French intelligence services in February 2014 because of his connections to the radical Islamist movement."

Three people were wounded in the incident after the gunmen opened fire on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris, the French Interior Ministry said.

"The man was armed with automatic weapons and knives. He was stopped by passengers," Christophe Piednoel, a spokesman for French railway SNCF said on iTele television.

The man was arrested when the train stopped at Arras station in northern France but his motives were not yet known, a ministry spokesman said. Three US Marines were on board the train and overpowered the man, French media said.

Those who were wounded included an American and a Briton.

Train operator Thalys said that travellers were safe and the situation was under control.

France has been on high security alert since Islamist militants killed 17 people in and around Paris earlier this year.

Four hostages were killed and four others were critically wounded as a result of a hostage standoff in a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris in January.

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