(Paris) A man “suffering from psychiatric disorders” and suspected of having stabbed three people on Saturday morning at Lyon station in Paris was arrested and placed in police custody, indicated the prefect of police Laurent Nuñez, ruling out terrorist motivation at this stage.
The attack occurred less than six months before the Paris Olympic Games where 15 million visitors are expected in a tense security context.
The attack took place around 7:35 a.m. and left one seriously injured, hit in the abdomen and whose vital prognosis is “in jeopardy”, and two lightly injured, according to Mr. Nuñez, who also mentioned a fourth person “ very shocked” by the attack.
“The blows were allegedly carried out with a hammer and a knife – weapons currently being analyzed,” according to the prosecution.
“Thank you to those who controlled the author of this unbearable act,” said Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on X.
An investigation into attempted assassination was opened and entrusted to the 2e district of the Parisian judicial police, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.
The attacker, of Malian nationality, has been “regularly in Italy since 2016, with a valid document issued in 2019” according to the documents in his possession. This title allowed him to travel to France legally.
He was until then unknown to the French and Italian police services, according to a police source.
The suspect “spontaneously” declared that he was suffering from “psychiatric disorders” and “medications” were found on him, added the police prefect during a press briefing at Lyon station.
Investigations are underway “on his telephone, on his journey in Italy, he will make statements in hearings, we will see if the terrorist trail can be ruled out” for good, said Mr. Nuñez.
Subsequent psychiatric examination
The National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office specified for its part that it was under observation.
The sources interviewed by AFP converged to say that the man presented a “homeless profile” without “any sign of religiosity”, but a source close to the case had called for caution regarding the psychiatric profile of the accused.
The man “was first overpowered by passers-by” before the intervention of Suge, the SNCF railway police, who then handed him over to the police, detailed a police source.
The suspect “would not have shouted during his action,” added this source.
According to the identity papers he presented, he was born on 1er January 1992, according to the first source close to the file.
A first medical examination made it possible to declare his state of health compatible with police custody, said another source close to the case, according to which he should be the subject of a subsequent psychiatric examination, in the afternoon or Sunday morning.
The events took place in hall 3 of the station, located underground, which leads in particular to suburban trains such as the RER A and D and line R which serves the south of Seine-et-Marne. It was immediately closed to the public and was still closed at the end of the morning. A large screen was installed to conceal the scene of the events, noted an AFP journalist.
“Flows have been reorganized in the station so that passengers can move freely without going through hall 3”, and “train circulation is normal” in the station, indicated the SNCF contacted by AFP in the middle of the day .
“I am waiting for all light to be shed on the circumstances of this tragedy,” asked the LR president of the Île-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse, on X.
Several political figures, such as the boss of LR Eric Ciotti or the environmentalist deputy for Paris Sandrine Rousseau, provided their “support for the people attacked” on X. Most also thanked the security forces for their action.
This attack “testifies to the urgent need to strengthen security in transport”, underlined for his part in a press release Philippe Tabarot, LR senator from Alpes-Maritimes, sponsor of a bill in the Senate on the subject.
“There are a lot of people who are delusional or pseudo-delusional, who have nothing to do on the street and who should be in care structures,” lamented emergency doctor Patrick Pelloux on BFMTV. “We closed (structures, Editor’s note), we changed the laws on compulsory hospitalization or surveillance,” he regretted, highlighting this public security issue in the run-up to the Olympics. He put the number of knife attacks in Paris at “19” per day.
Gare de Lyon is the leading station in France in terms of main line traffic, ahead of Gare du Nord. This is where all the TGV trains leave for the ski resorts during the winter holidays.
More than 100 million travelers pass through this station each year, whose lines serve the south-east of the country, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and Burgundy-Franche-Comté but also Switzerland and Italy.