France terror probe expands after deadly knife attack

French police said on Sunday they had arrested another suspect in a terror probe triggered after a man went on a deadly knife rampage on Saturday in the southeastern town of Romans-sur-Isere.

Altogether three Sudanese nationals have now been detained over the incident: the alleged assailant — a refugee in this 30s — an acquaintance of his and a man who was living in the same household, police said.

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The attack suspect, who killed two people and injured five more during his daytime stabbing spree in the town center, was found by police “on his knees on the pavement praying in Arabic” after the attack, according to the national anti-terror prosecutor’s office (PNAT).

A police source said the suspect, who was unknown to police, asked to be killed when officers came to arrest him. The man had received refugee status in France in June 2017, according to investigators.

‘A country of non-believers’

PNAT said that a search of the suspect’s home had turned up “handwritten documents with religious connotations … in which the author complains in particular that he lives in a country of non-believers.”

An initial interrogation of the suspect was reportedly delayed because of his state of extreme agitation, and he was to undergo a psychological examination on Sunday.

Of the five injured, two remain in intensive care but stable, one is recovering in hospital and two have been discharged, according to a source close to the investigation.

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French President Emmanuel Macron used the messaging service Twitter to decry the attack as “an odious act.”

The attack came as the country is in the third week of a national lockdown over the novel coronavirus.

In recent years, France has been hit by a spate of deadly attacks that have been categorized as terrorism largely connected with Islamic fundamentalism.

tj/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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