Two soldiers overpower gunman on train in France
Paris — Two U.S. soldiers were wounded after they confronted a gunman on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris, potentially averting a massacre, France’s interior minister said.
The gunman, whose identity hasn’t been publicly disclosed, was interrogated at the train station in Arras, northern France, following the attack, which anti-terrorism experts are investigating, French President Francois Hollande said in a statement after the attack.
The two soldiers helped capture the suspect after they heard the sound of a gun being loaded in a toilet in the train, according to reports by media including Agence France Presse. The pair, who were in civilian clothes, started monitoring the gunman after passengers noticed his behavior was erratic, media reports said.
The soldiers “showed great bravery in extremely difficult circumstances” French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said at a briefing in Arras after the attacks, offering “all our recognition and our admiration for the sang-froid they displayed, without which we may have faced a terrible drama.”
The attacker allegedly was equipped with numerous guns and blades, and had a Kalashnikov rifle, AFP said, citing an unidentified police official.
The attack took place at about 5:45 p.m. local time, Cazeneuve said. It occurred before the train crossed from Belgium into France, Hollande’s office said in a statement, adding that he and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel have discussed the incident and vowed to cooperate closely in the investigation.
The gunman lived in Spain and is a follower of radical Islam, national news radio station France Info said, without saying how it got the information. He boarded the train in Brussels, according to newspaper La Voix du Nord.
Hollande’s office had said that three people were injured in the attack. AFP, citing a spokesman for French rail operator SNCF, said a French passenger, film actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, was lightly injured as he sought to activate an alarm on the train, but was not wounded by the attacker.
SNCF officials didn’t return calls seeking comment.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, declined to comment when asked about the U.S. soldiers and referred questions to authorities in France.
France suffered at least three high-profile terrorist attacks earlier this year.
In January, 17 people were killed in two attacks, one on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and another, a day later, at a kosher grocery in Paris. The slaughters by a radicalized trio catapulted France’s capital onto the front pages of newspapers around the world.
On June 26, four people were arrested in connection with a terror attack earlier in the month on an Air Products & Chemicals Inc. gas plant near Lyon in southeastern France, in which one person was decapitated and two were injured.
French authorities also foiled another attack, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, on April 19 on a Paris church.
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