Three people were injured Friday afternoon after a shooter aboard a high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris opened fire on the passengers.
“Without their courage we would have surely faced a awful tragedy”, said Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, adding “the greatest care and the greatest precision will be used” in the inquiry launched by a counter-terrorism prosecutor.
Laurent knew first aid – but he hesitated, he said, unsure if the gunman was still on the loose.
Brandet says the motivation for the attack is unknown.
Between 150 and 200 passengers and their luggage were left waiting at Arras station, some of them from the Thalys train, along with a large number of police and rescue workers. Witnesses from the train told French media that the attack apparently began near the back of the train, raising the possibility that the intent was to move forward through the train, which was carrying 554 passengers aboard.
Police union official Slimane Hamzi said the 26-year-old man had said he was of Moroccan origin.
“The situation is under control, the travelers are safe”, the train’s operator, Thalys, tweeted in French.
A statement from French President Francois Hollande said the attack took place while the Thalys train was passing through Belgium. He said one of the Americans was hospitalized with serious wounds.
The suspect was arrested after the train stopped in Arras, 115 miles north of Paris, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henri Brandet said on French television BFM.
Chris Norman, a 62-year-old British consultant, told reporters he had been sitting in the same carriage as the Americans when they heard a shot.
The third person injured was French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, who has a light hand injury, Blondeau said. It wasn’t initially clear where the gunman’s loyalties lie – but officials said he was already known to European and French authorities as an ISIS sympathizer.
A French police official said the attacker’s weapons included a Kalashnikov automatic rifle, and that he gave police a name that has been flagged on a French intelligence list.
“Without their sangfroid we could have been confronted with a bad drama”.
France remains on a high state of alert following deadly Islamist terror attacks on the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that published cartoons mocking the Islamic “prophet” Mohammed, and a Jewish supermarket, earlier this year.