A man has been decapitated by attackers brandishing Islamist flags at a French factory, which was later rocked by an explosion, Sky News reports. The severed head had Arabic writing scrawled across it and was found on a fence next to two jihadi banners. Two other people were hurt in explosions at the factory in Grenoble, said French President Francois Hollande. The attack happened shortly before reports of a gunman attacking tourists at a Tunisian resort popular with Britons and a mosque attack by Islamic State in Kuwait that killed 25.
The explosions in France were triggered when two attackers deliberately crashed a car into gas canisters, according to police. One Islamist had been killed at the premises in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, southeastern France. The main suspect, named as Yassin Salhi, 35, has been arrested. He is believed to have been an employee of the victim – who headed a local transportation company, according to a French security official.
He said that one of the suspects had been known to foreign intelligence services may have been radicalised. The suspect was initially flagged as an extremist in 2006 and then police monitoring dropped off two years later, according to Mr Cazeneuve. He did not have a criminal record, the minister added. Employees at the factory – Air Products – are said to be “very shocked”.
One witness called Caroline, from a neighbouring factory, said: “I heard a really loud noise. Fire engines arrived with the police. “We thought it was a motorway accident.” Air Products is an American chemical company based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. A statement from the company read: “Our priority at this stage is to take care of our employees, who have been evacuated from the site and all accounted for.
“Our crisis and emergency response teams have been activated and are working closely with all relevant authorities.” Henry Samuel, a correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, told Sky News: “The person arrested was allegedly carrying a flag of the Islamic State and he said he was a member of the IS.” Mr Hollande has cut short all of his engagements at the EU summit in Belgium to return to France for emergency talks.
He said the security level in the region of Rhone-Alpes has been raised to “attack” for the next three days. “The attack was of a terrorist nature since a body was discovered, decapitated and with inscriptions,” Mr Hollande told a news conference in Brussels. He added that a considerable police force had been deployed in the region and other industrial sites protected to avoid any further incidents.
David Cameron has spoken to Mr Hollande in Brussels to express his sympathies at what Downing Street called an “appalling” attack. The attack came nearly six months after the Islamist attacks in and around Paris that killed 17 people in January. Sky’s Foreign Affairs Editor Sam Kiley said: “There has been a concerted effort by Islamic State to reach out to their followers in France and exhortations to conduct this sort of attack.
“We saw with the Charlie Hebdo attack these were also self-starter individuals who had had training from al Qaeda in Yemen. “One of the three said he was there on behalf of Islamic State, the other two claimed membership of al Qaeda. “In a sense it doesn’t matter. What matters is that people are inspired to carry out terrorist attacks.”