PARIS — The Latest on Marseille knife attack (all times local):
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned a knife attack in the French city of Marseille in which two young women were killed Sunday.
In a telegram to French President Emmanuel Macron, she wrote Monday that she learned of the attack “with great sadness.” Merkel said “once again, innocent people fell victim to a barbaric attack by an individual.”
She expressed her sympathy to the victims’ families and said Germany would stand by France in the fight against terrorism. Merkel added: “I am firmly convinced that our freedom and our peaceful and respectful way of living together are stronger than any hatred.”
French media reports said two cousins had come together for a weekend birthday celebration when they were stabbed at the Marseille train station.
A small French town is holding a memorial for two young women stabbed to death by a suspected extremist after a weekend birthday celebration.
The mayor of Eguilles in southern France told reporters Monday that “we are traumatized” and his whole town of 8,000 people “is in deep mourning” after Sunday’s attack.
Mayor Robert Dargone said the town is gathering Monday evening to honor the victims: a medical student from Eguilles and her cousin, from the Lyon region. He said their identities would not be released to save the families further trauma.
French media reports said the young women had come together for a weekend birthday celebration. They were stabbed Marseille’s main train station by a man the Islamic State group claimed as its “soldier.”
France’s main counterterrorism prosecutor says a man who fatally stabbed two women at Marseille’s main train station had used seven different identities in previous encounters with police.
Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters Monday that the suspect’s most recent arrest occurred just two days before Sunday’s train station stabbing. Molins said that the suspect was picked up for shoplifting and released the next day, and the case was dropped. The suspect has never been convicted in the French justice system.
The prosecutor said the victims of the attack were cousins visiting each other for a birthday celebration.
Investigators are trying to determine the attacker’s real identity and whether he had links to the Islamic State group, which claimed he was one of its “soldiers.” The attacker was killed by soldiers after the stabbing.
French officials say a man who fatally stabbed two women at Marseille’s main train station had been arrested and released the day before the attack.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack, the latest of several targeting France.
Two police officials said Monday the man didn’t have French residency papers and was detained for suspected shoplifting in the Lyon region Saturday before being released. The officials said he wasn’t on France’s extremist watch list.
The suspect, killed by police after Sunday’s attack, was identified by his fingerprints. French media reports said he used multiple identity papers.
The victims were cousins between 17 and 21 years old, according to three police and judicial officials who weren’t authorized to be publicly named discussing an ongoing investigation.