BY PHILIPPE SOTTO, Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — Four young American tourists were attacked with acid Sunday at a train station in the French city of Marseille, but French authorities so far do not think extremist views motivated the 41-year-old woman who was arrested as the alleged assailant, the local prosecutor’s office said.
Two of the female tourists suffered facial injuries during the late morning attack at Marseille’s Saint Charles train station and one of the two also had a possible eye injury, a spokeswoman for the Marseille prosecutor’s office told The Associated Press in a phone call.
She said all four of the women, who are in their 20s, were hospitalized, two of them for shock. The suspect was taken into police custody.
The spokeswoman spoke on condition of anonymity, per the custom of the French judicial system. She did not release more details about the victims, including where in the United States the tourists live.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said that its counter-terrorism division has decided for the time being not to assume jurisdiction for investigating the attack. The prosecutor’s office in the capital, which has responsibility for all terror-related cases in France, did not explain the reasoning behind the decision.
The spokeswoman for the Marseille prosecutor’s office said the suspect did not make any extremist threats or declarations during the attack. She said there were no obvious indications that the woman’s actions were terror-related.
The Marseille fire department was alerted just after 11 a.m. and dispatched four vehicles and 14 firefighters to the train station, a department spokeswoman said.
Two of the Americans were “slightly injured” with acid but did not require emergency medical treatment from medics at the scene, the spokeswoman said. She requested anonymity in keeping with fire department protocol.
Regional newspaper La Provence, quoting unidentified police officials, reported that the suspect had a history of mental health problems and noted that she remained at the site of the attack without trying to flee.
A spokesman for the United States embassy in Paris said the U.S. consulate in Marseille was in contact with French authorities.
U.S. authorities in France are not immediately commenting on what happened to protect the privacy of the American tourists, embassy spokesman Alex Daniels said.
Marseille is a port city in southern France that is closer to Barcelona than Paris.
In previous incidents in Marseille, a driver deliberately rammed into two bus stops last month, killing a woman, but officials said it wasn’t terror-related.
In April, French police said they thwarted an imminent “terror attack” and arrested two suspected radicals in Marseille just days before the first round of France’s presidential election. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters the two suspects “were getting ready to carry out an imminent, violent action.” In January 2016, a 15-year-old Turkish Kurd was arrested after attacking a Jewish teacher on a Marseille street. He told police he acted in the name of the Islamic State group.
Angela Charlton contributed to the report