Speaking on French television BFM, Pierre-Henri Brandet says a suspect is in custody and the train has been evacuated in Arras, 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Paris, where the train stopped after the attack.
Speaking on French television BFM, Pierre-Henri Brandet says a suspect is in custody and the train has been evacuated in Arras, 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Paris, where the train stopped after the attack. AP Photo

Three injured after gunman opens fire on European train

A GUNMAN has injured three people - two critically - after he opened fire on a high-speed French train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris.

The suspect, who was armed with an automatic rifle and a knife, opened fire on the Thalys train, and was apprehended by two American passengers, believed to be US Marines.

The train was travelling through Belgium at the time of the incident, which culminated in the gunman being arrested in the northern French border-town of Arras.

Describing the American passengers as "courageous", French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that one of the men was hospitalised with serious wounds. A second person was also seriously hurt and a third is being treated for minor injuries, according to a statement from President Francois Hollande's office.

Of the three injured, one was hurt by a gunshot and the other with a knife, according to the French daily Le Monde.

The American passengers "were particularly courageous and showed great bravery in very difficult circumstances", said Cazeneuve, adding that "without their sangfroid we could have been confronted with a terrible drama".

The pair were off-duty members of the military, and approached the man after hearing the sound of a heavy weapon being loaded in the toilet, the La Voix du Nord newspaper reported. They responded by stopping him from entering the main train aisle.

The train was evacuated following the shooting, and the suspect was taken into custody, Pierre-Henri Brandet, a spokesman for the French Interior Ministry has said.

French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade was reportedly lightly wounded when he broke glass to sound the alarm.

A Kalashnikov was used during the shooting, according to reports from La Voix du Nord.

Speaking on the BFM TV station, Brandet added that the identity of the gunman and the motivation for the attack is unknown.

However, Sliman Hamzi, an official with the police union Alliance, told the AP news agency that the man was a 26-year-old Moroccan.

Officers from France's special anti-terror police are leading the investigation, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor's office said. Following his arrest, he has refused to speak to  in Arras, Le Monde reported.

 President Hollande is co-operating with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, according a statement from the French government.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it did not believe British nationals were among the injured, following previous reports that a member of the British military stopped the gunman.



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