PARIS (AP) — An attacker wounded six people in an unprovoked blade attack in Paris’ busy Gare du Nord train station Wednesday morning before being shot and wounded by police, France’s interior minister said, praising the swift intervention of police for helping prevent any fatalities.
The suspect attacked several people, including a police officer, with a “bladed weapon” during the morning rush hour, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters at the scene, flanked by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
He said the unnamed assailant was currently “between life and death” in a hospital after being shot in the chest, according to French media. Darmanin thanked the police “for their effective and courageous reaction.”
“Without the extremely rapid intervention, there would surely be deaths,” he said, detailing how the suspect was neutralized within one minute of attacking his first victim.
“At 6:42, the first acts were described. At 6:43, the police used their administrative weapon after his passage of violence,” he said.
Darmanin said the attacker’s weapon was “not a knife” but likely a homemade weapon. He said the suspect was reported not to have said anything during the assault and that investigators have not discovered any extremist links.
According to French media reports, the suspect first threw himself upon a man in front of the train station, stabbing him 15 times and seriously wounding him. The assailant then entered the station and attacked four civilians and a police officer, the media reports said.
Screams alerted two other police officers who intervened while the suspect was attacking the officer. The officer for France’s border guard was stabbed in the back but not seriously wounded because of a bulletproof vest, Darmanin said.
The man stabbed outside the station was the only person who sustained serious wounds in the attack, officials said. Police opened an investigation into whether the attack merited attempted assassination charges.
Video of the Gare du Nord, one of the French capital’s busiest commuter stations, showed an eerie calm as dozens of police huddled nearby the Eurostar terminal entrance in areas cordoned off from the public.
No specific motive has currently been suggested by authorities. France remains jittery following a spate of deadly terror attacks since 2015.
The commotion also caused serious disruptions to train services at the station — Europe’s busiest rail artery — in the early morning rush hour, according to the national railway company SNCF.