A group of unarmed US Marines on board a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris foiled a terrorist attack after a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle, wounding three people.
The 26-year-old Moroccan national, who was known to security services, came out of the toilet brandishing the gun and opened fire. Fortunately, two US Marines were nearby and overpowered him before he could massacre passengers.
The suspected terrorist had at least nine full magazines of ammunition holding almost 200 rounds. He was also carrying a knife.
Unfortunately, one of the Marines was shot and is believed to be in a critical condition.
The man was arrested by police near the town of Arras in northern France.
Train company Thalys confirmed the incident happened. A spokesman said: ‘The situation is under control, the travellers are safe. The train stopped and the emergency services are on site.’
No one at the SNCF French railways was immediately available to comment on the report.
A report on Twitter said that three US Marines detained the gunman until emergency services arrived.
The incident happened at approximately 6pm local time.
French newspaper Le Monde is reporting that one Briton may be among the injured.
The motives behind the attack were not immediately known, although a spokesman for the interior minister said: ‘It is too early to speak of a terrorist link’.
The incident happened approximately 115 miles north of Paris near the town of Arras.
Investigators from France’s special anti-terror police are leading the investigation, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
Two of the victims are in a critical condition. The suspect is a 26-year-old Moroccan, said Sliman Hamzi, an official with police union Alliance.
A spokesman for the French state rail company SNCF said that the assailant was armed with guns and knives but gave no further details about the attack.
The gunman was arrested after the train pulled into the station in the northern French town of Arras, the SNCF spokesman told AFP.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve arrived at the scene in Arras in the wake of the incident, which occurred shortly after 6pm local time.
His spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet confirmed to AFP that a man had opened fire on the train but said that at this stage “we do not know his motives”.
The French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, who appeared in the 1986 cult film ‘Betty Blue’ staring Beatrice Dalle, was lightly injured. It is understood he cut his hand while breaking the glass on the emergency alarm.
Anglade also played the hard-nosed cop Eddy Caplan in the gritty French crime drama Braquo.
Thalys said on its website that several trains had been delayed after the ‘intervention of security forces at Arras station’.
‘The train is at the station and emergency services are at the scene,’ said Thalys, which is jointly owned by the national rail companies of Belgium, France and Germany.
France remains on edge after Islamic extremists attacked the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris in January.
In June, a man beheaded his boss and tried to blow up a gas plant in southern France in what prosecutors say was an attack inspired by ISIS.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: ‘We are aware of reports of shots being fired on a train in France.
‘The French authorities have responded, we are in contact with them and are urgently seeking more information.’
Interior ministry spokesman Pierre Henry Brandet said: ‘A man opened fire on this Thalys train between Amsterdam and Paris, one person was very seriously injured. Talking about a terrorist motive would be premature at the moment.’
Francois Hollande, the French president, has said: ‘I express my solidarity with the wounded from the attack on the train from Amsterdam to Paris. Everything is being done to shed light on this tragedy.’
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