Man shot dead by French army after killing two people at Marseille train station

Assailant with knife killed by paramilitary forces after stabbing two people to death at main railway station, say police

The scene of the attack at Saint-Charles station. The assailant can be seen on the ground in the centre of the picture surrounded by police, with one of the victims pictured on the left. Photograph: Alamy Live News

A man armed with a knife killed two people at the main train station in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille on Sunday before being shot dead by soldiers patrolling there.

“Two victims have been stabbed to death,” the regional police chief, Olivier de Mazieres, told AFP.

The local prosecutor, Xavier Tarabeux, said the knifeman had been shot by soldiers, while Marseille police urged people in the city to avoid the area around Saint-Charles station.

The assailant is believed to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” [God is greatest] before assaulting passersby, a source close to the investigation told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The French interior minister, Gérard Collomb, said he was heading to Marseille immediately.

Police earlier said they cordoned off the area around the Saint-Charles station while they evacuated the station.

The local police force also asked people to stay away from the area on its Twitter feed.

The soldiers who opened fire were from Operation Sentinelle, the military operation in which combat troops patrol streets and protect key sites – from synagogues to art galleries, nursery schools to mosques and Métro stations. The operation is the army’s first wide-scale peacetime military operation on mainland France.

Sentinelle was launched after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris in January 2015. After the November 2015 attacks that killed 130 people, the former Socialist president François Hollande increased the presence to 10,000 troops across the country, with about 6,500 in the Paris area.

Since 2015, more than 230 people in France have been killed in terrorist attacks.

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