Marseille Terror Attack and Travel Risks
2 Oct 2017
Two women were stabbed and killed outside the Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles, in southern France on 1 October 2017. The assailant was shot and killed by French soldiers, who were at the station as a part of Operation Sentinelle. One woman was stabbed in the stomach while the other had her neck sliced. Witnesses have reported that the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar”, Arabic for “God is greatest”.
- Two women have been killed after a knife attack at Saint-Charles train station in Marseille on 01 October.
- Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the attack which is being treated as a terror incident.
- France remains on high alert, with a state of emergency still in place, after a series of terror incidents over the past two years.
Terrorism: Two women were stabbed and killed outside the Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles, in southern France on 1 October 2017. The assailant was shot and killed by French soldiers, who were at the station as a part of Operation Sentinelle. One woman was stabbed in the stomach while the other had her neck sliced. Witnesses have reported that the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar”, Arabic for “God is greatest”.
France’s Interior Minister, Gerard Collomb, is travelling to the scene following the attack. Paris authorities have since revealed that the suspect was known to the police for minor crimes.
Solace Global Comment
The incident in Marseille erupted only days after the Islamic State (IS) released a video online, purportedly of the terror group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which he urged his followers to step up attacks against their enemies in the West. Indeed, IS have claimed that the attacker was one of its soldiers via its Amaq news agency. Though the attacker’s link to the terror group are unclear at this stage it is possible that he was inspired by the terror group rather than having any specific direct links. Islamic State regularly take responsibility for attacks which are undertaken in its name or inspired by its ideology. Attacks of this kind are expected to continue as Islamic State depletes in the Middle East. European nations fear the impact of returning fighters as well as those inspired by the terror group. France is an active partner in the anti-Islamic State coalition, making it a legitimate target in the eyes of the caliphate.
The attacker has been described as a young man known to police for his police record for small-scale criminal actions. This largely fits the profile of many ‘lone wolf’ attackers who have struck France (and other European nations) over the past few years. They are often young men with a hatred for French authority who have been encouraged by extremist ideology.
The attack in Marseille comes with France still on high alert following a string of terror incidents since the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks. Since 2015, more than 230 people in France have been killed in terrorist attacks. The French government has since launched Operation Sentinelle where 7,000 troops have been deployed across the country as a part of the continuing state of emergency. The increase in troop deployments allows for greater security to be given to high risk areas such as transport hubs, tourist sites, and religious buildings. It is believed that this increased security is what allowed for the quick response to the Marseille attacker and prevent further deaths of civilians.
Travellers should be aware there is an increased security presence in France, especially in the capital Paris. Former President Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency which remains in place at the current time. Increased checkpoints have already been noted as well as security patrols.Â If travelling within country, it is vital that travellers adhere fully to the instructions of security forces; opposition may result in a forceful response. Travellers should expect security to be further heightened in Marseille over the coming days.
If caught in a terror situation, travellers are advised to RUN â HIDE â TELL â FIGHT â TREAT. RUN â If in a location where gunfire or explosions are heard, leave the area or building by any safe and available exit immediately. HIDE â If unable to run away, find suitable cover or barricade yourself in a room. Remember to silence your phone and turn vibrate off. TELL â Inform emergency services or alert someone who is able to do it for you. Once police arrive, comply with their instructions and do not make any sudden movements. FIGHT â As a last resort, if confronted with a gunman, it is recommended to fight back by using the element of surprise by shouting, screaming and running fast at the attacker. If sheltered with others, convince them to do the same and rush the attacker all at once. Ensure the person entering the shelter is the attacker and not law enforcement. TREAT â For potentially fatal wounds, the earlier a victim is treated, increases the likelihood they will survive the incident. This is potentially difficult to manage as armed police responding to a terror attack generally have to prioritise eliminating the threat first. Medical personnel may only be allowed onto the scene once the police have secured the area and removed the threat.
Solace Global would not advise clients of the need to employ enhanced security measures when visiting Paris. Travellers are advised to use travel-tracking technology with an intelligence feed. This will enable a traveller to be alerted of any security updates within their vicinity, and to update others of their location in case of an emergency.
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