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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Saturday, October 21, 2017

The man who allegedly stabbed two young women to death in Marseille, France Sunday had been arrested and then released by police two days before the incident.

French authorities said the suspect, who went by multiple identities was stopped by police in Lyon on Sept. 29 for suspected shoplifting, but he was released for a lack of evidence.

The man had reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar," (God is great) as he stabbed the two women at Marseille's main train station before French soldiers gunned him down.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its official news agency.

Police video is said to show the suspect stabbing one woman, disappearing, and re-emerging moments later to attack his second victim.

He ran straight toward soldiers who opened fire and killed him. The attacker and his victims have not been publicly identified.

Police shut down and sealed off the station and French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb immediately went to Marseille.

French prosecutors have opened a counter-terrorism probe, but Collomb has not yet formally declared it a terror attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he is "deeply outraged" by the "barbarous" attack while praising the swift but cool-headed response by the soldiers.

France has been in a state of emergency since November 2015 after Islamic extremists attacked a concert hall in Paris and several bars.

Ten months earlier, gunmen had opened fire in the offices of the satirical cartoon magazine Charlie Hebdo and later seized hostages in a kosher supermarket.

There have been several other terror attacks in France since then, including one in Nice in July 2016 where 86 people were killed when a driver ran down pedestrians celebrating Bastille Day.

The prosecutor, Francois Molins, told a news conference that the suspect, who was shot dead by a French soldier, went by seven different identities. One such identity named him as "Ahmed H”, born in 1987 in Tunisia.

He had shown a Tunisian passport when last stopped by police in the city of Lyon on September 29 on suspicion of robbery. He was subsequently released by police for lack of evidence on September 30, the day before Sunday's attack.

"The attacker had been pointed out on seven different times since 2005, under seven different identities. The last time, on September 29, related to an arrest in Lyon over shoplifting," Molins told a news conference.

Molins said none of the suspect's seven different identities had thrown up any alert on French anti-terrorist check lists.

The authorities were trying now to establish his real name and the authenticity of the Tunisian passport he had shown.

Molins added that the suspect had told police he lived in Lyon, was homeless, divorced and had problems with drug abuse.

The assailant was shot dead by a soldier from the military Sentinelle patrol, a force deployed across the country under a state of emergency declared after Islamist militant attacks began almost two years ago.

By: Walter Metuth