One dead and eight injured in knife attack near Lyon

Authorities have so far not linked the knife attack to terrorism, pending an investigation

At least one person has died and eight been injured after a knife attack at a bus and Metro stop in Villeurbanne, near Lyon in Rhône (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes) on Saturday August 31.

UPDATE: The suspect was placed in detention. He acknowledged the facts and confessed hearing voices “insulting God”, and recognising someone with whom he had issues several years ago in England. A psychiatric expert said he was in an "invasive psychotic state", as well as a "paranoid delirium". 

The assailant was chased by witnesses and arrested at the scene - close to the Laurent-Bonnevay train station - and is now in police custody.

Despite giving police three different identities, he has been identified as a 33-year-old Afghanistani asylum seeker. He was not previously known to police.

So far, police have described the attack as “murder and attempted murder”, and have not linked the incident to terrorism. The motive is so far not known.

Early reports say that the weapons included a “long knife” and a “skewer”.

One man aged 19, originally from Isère, died. Of the eight people injured, three are still in a serious condition. The oldest victim is aged 76. Around 20 more people were treated for shock.

The mayor of Villeurbanne, Jean-Paul Bret, thanked witnesses and security staff, and said: “The terrorist angle has neither been ruled out nor upheld.”

Minister of the interior, Christophe Castaner, said that the Police Nationale were working on the case, and doing everything they can to “shed light on the attack”.

He added: “Our first thoughts go to the friends and family of the young man who died. Solidarity with the injured. The State is at their side. I wish to thank our security and emergency forces.”

Gérard Collomb, mayor of Lyon, said that the attack appeared to have been “rather sudden”, with the perpetrator “attacking passengers who were waiting for a bus in a calm manner”. He added: “We must wait for the conclusions from the inquiry. Until then, we must be very careful.”

After the incident, the assailant was “about to re-enter the Metro” transport system and escape, but witnesses were able to chase and contain him until police arrived.

Hervé Redon, department secretary of the Police Alliance union in the Rhône, praised the “calm thinking and good reaction in the face of danger” of the witnesses, and said: “In cases like this, often it only takes one person to intervene, and that causes others to get involved.”

But he added that usually, if you are not confident in your ability to help in an emergency situation, “it is better to try and escape”.

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