Another radical Islamist attack took place in France today, not far from where the country once hosted the Olympic Games in Grenoble. At least one suspect is in custody after an attempt to blow up a gas factory and beheading a victim, but more may have been involved. Police reportedly found Arabic writing, and some reports include ISIS and/or Islamist material, with the suspect.
President François Hollande told France that “the terrorist nature of this act is in no doubt,” although CBS’ report hours later oddly backs away from that conclusion:
A factory in southeastern France was targeted in a terrorist attack Friday morning, leaving one person dead and two injured, French President François Hollande said. Two police officers said a severed head was found at the site of the assault.
One man has been detained and identified in connection with the attack, Mr. Hollande said in an address from Brussels, where he was attending a European Union summit.
Two police officers said Arabic writing was found at the scene. France’s antiterrorism prosecutors said they were opening an investigation on suspicion of murder and attempted murder in connection with the attack. …
France has been on high alert for possible terrorist attacks, mobilizing thousands of police and paramilitary at sensitive sites, including schools, newspapers, and places of worship.
It was unclear if the suspects have any links to radical Islamist groups, such as Islamic State and al Qaeda. Islamic State has called on followers to mount terrorist attacks on France, which has been involved in airstrikes against the militant group’s operations in Iraq.
The Associated Press reported earlier that they had found flags with Arabic inscriptions at the scene — and a gruesome sight when they arrived:
A security official says a decapitated head was found posted on the gate at the entry to the gas factory that came under attack Friday in southeastern France.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details to the media, said the torso was found near the site of the explosion but that the victim was not decapitated by the blast.
Two flags, one white and one black and both with Arabic inscriptions, were found at the scene.
Bloomberg’s report treads cautiously on the motivations, but notes that the area between Lyon and Grenoble is known for its banlieus.
France24 doesn’t shy away from calling it an Islamist attack. This is from their live coverage of the attack live, in English:
Update: Another “known wolf” attack?
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the suspect arrested had been under surveillance but was not previously involved in terrorist activities.
“The dangerous elements were neutralized immediately after the crime was committed,” he said, speaking at the scene of Friday’s attack.
I’ve also changed the description of the France24 clip; it was from their live streaming coverage, but the live feed is no longer on line.
Update: This attack in Tunisia looks more like a major terrorist operation:
Terrorists attacked the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba in Susah, Tunisia, a spokesman for Tunisia’s Interior Ministry told the state-run TAP news agency.
Tunisian security forces exchanged gunfire with the attackers at the beachfront hotel, and the operation was still underway early Friday afternoon, according to the spokesman.
Two hotels came under attack, and now Tunisian officials say 19 have been killed so far.
Update: The death toll is now at 27, “mostly tourists,” according to officials. Tunisia didn’t discuss nationalities, but the AP reports that local radio describes them as German and British.