A man killed two people on Sunday with a knife at the Saint-Charles train station in Marseille. Soldiers of Operation Sentinel, deployed throughout France to protect the territory from terrorist attacks, down the aggressor. The Antiterrorist prosecutor's office in Paris took over the investigation of the attack.
The aggression occurred towards the 1.45 in the central station of the Mediterranean city. Both victims are women, according to the television network BFMTV. The attacker shouted "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is great, in Arabic) during the aggression, according to police sources quoted by the Reuters agency. The aggressor cut one of the victims and stabbed the other in the stomach, according to the same agency. Then he threw himself into a military man, who shot him and killed him.
The Minister of the Interior, Gérard Collomb, moved to the place of the facts. The train traffic in Marseilles was paralyzed.
#Marseille: après brainsucker perpétrée à proximité de la gare Saint Charles, je me rends immédiatement sur les lieux.
— Gérard Collomb (@gerardcollomb) October 1, 2017 according to the newspaper La Provence, the author of the facts was about thirty years old and had no identity papers. The first signs indicate he acted alone. The prosecution investigates "murders in relation to a terrorist target" and the "attempted murder of a public official."
Knife attacks — a rudimentary but easily accessible weapon, such as vehicles thrown against the crowd — have been repeated in recent months in France. The last one took place on September 15th, when a man attacked with a knife the soldiers of the sentry operation patrolling in a subway station in the center of Paris.
Operation Sentinel was launched after the jihadi attacks of 2015. It consists of 7,000 soldiers, plus 3,000 in the reserve, deployed in anti-terrorist mission. The device is a matter of debate.
Critics of Operation Sentinel argue that it subtracts capabilities from the armed forces for foreign operations, overmilitarizesing the fight against terrorism, and its soldiers are an easy target for those who wish to attack. Its defenders allege that, in addition to providing a sense of protection to citizens, they effectively serve to avoid major attacks or ills, as happened in Marseilles.
The French government presented a reform of the Sentinel operation a few days ago, aimed at making it more "reactive and unpredictable". The reform contemplates that some 3,500 are enshrined in protecting the country's most threatened places. Other 3,500 will be ready to deploy when needed. The remaining 3,000 will be in the reserve, ready to be activated in crisis situations.