2017 Marseille stabbing

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Marseille stabbing
LocationMarseille-Saint-Charles Station
Date1 October 2017
Deaths2 victims
1 attacker
PerpetratorsAhmed Hanachi[1]

On 1 October 2017, a man killed two women at the Saint-Charles Station in Marseille, France. The women, 20-year-old and 21-year-old cousins, were attacked by an illegal immigrant[1] from Tunisia using a knife. Patrolling soldiers shot him dead at the scene. The brother of the attacker was later arrested and faced preliminary charges of suspicion of involvement in the train station attack.[2][3] French police were cautious as to whether it was a terrorist attack,[4] but it was later classified as jihadist terrorism by Europol.[5]


Surveillance video showed the perpetrator sitting on a bench for a few minutes outside the station, then rising and stabbing a woman several times then running away while screaming Allahu akbar, before returning to attack the second woman.[1][6][7] A female passerby attempted to intervene. The perpetrator then attempted to attack two soldiers patrolling the station, but was shot dead with two bullets.[8][9][10] Police described the weapon used as a knife approximately 20 cm long.[11] The victims were cousins, a 20-year-old medical student at Aix-Marseille University and a 21-year-old studying nursing in Lyon;[12] one was stabbed while the other had her throat cut.[13] The Prosecutor of France, François Molins, later confirmed that the perpetrator twice shouted "Allahu akbar".[14][15][16]

French prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation for "murders in connection with a terrorist enterprise" and "attempted assassination of persons holding public authority",[4][17][18][19] but investigators remained cautious about the nature of the incident. Central, rather than anti-terrorist, police are handling the investigation. French interior minister Gérard Collomb said: "It might be a terrorist act, but at this point we can’t say so with certainty".[4]


On 30 September, the day before the attack, the perpetrator had been arrested in Lyon on suspicion of shoplifting. He was held overnight; however, he was not on the terror watch list and police released him.[8] The perpetrator was found to have used multiple identities, but his real identity was established using fingerprints which matched those taken in seven previous incidents registered by French police since 2005.[8][4] Authorities in Lyon had considered deporting him, but hesitated due to the uncertainty of his identity.[20] He was carrying a Tunisian passport when arrested in Lyon on the day before the attack, but not carrying any ID at the time of the attack.[8] He was in France illegally.[1] Tunisian authorities have identified him as Ahmed Hanachi; he had been arrested for various offences there and a dozen times in France, and had admitted to police that he was addicted to drugs.[1] French authorities said there was no outward evidence that the attacker had been radicalised.[21]

No ties were found between the perpetrator and any terror group,[22] though it was later classified as jihadist terrorism by Europol.[5] The ISIS-related Amaq News Agency claimed that the perpetrator was a "soldier" of the Islamic State.[13]

The perpetrator's friends and family dismissed the notion that he was radicalized, saying that he was a drug addict who had lost his way.[22]

Other arrests[edit]

On 8 October, Italian police arrested a younger brother of the attacker, identified as 25-year-old Anis Hanachi in the town of Ferrara, after an international arrest warrant had been issued by France. He was being held on suspicion of complicity in the attack and of membership in a terrorist group.[23] He had reportedly fought in Syria, and had previously been expelled from Italy in 2014 after arriving in Sicily illegally on a smuggler boat.[21]

On 10 October, Swiss police detained two Tunisians in the town of Chiasso near the Swiss-Italian border, including another brother of the attacker who was "known to foreign police services for his links to jihadist terrorist movements". The couple, a man and a woman who were seeking asylum in Switzerland were due to be sent back to Tunisia. The man's role in the Marseille attack, "if any, is not clear", Swiss police said.[24]

Tunisian authorities said two other siblings of the attacker living in Bizerte had been held for questioning.[25]


Both French President Emmanuel Macron and local politician Samia Ghali praised the efficiency of the Opération Sentinelle soldiers who stopped the attack, with Ghali telling local radio "If the military had not been there, we would have had a lot more deaths."[26]


  1. ^ a b c d e "INFO FRANCE 2. Marseille: les autorités tunisiennes ont identifié l'auteur de l'attaque au couteau comme étant Ahmed Hanachi, un de leurs ressortissants" (in French). France Télévisions. 2 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Brother of Marseille attacker faces charges in France". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 3 November 2017. Archived from the original on 10 November 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  3. ^ "Two suspected jihadists extradited to France". thelocal.fr. AFP. 3 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Chrisafis, Angelique (1 October 2017). "Man shot dead by French army after killing two people at Marseille train station". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2018 (TE SAT 2018) (PDF). Europol. 2018. pp. 5–9, 22–25, 35–36. ISBN 978-92-95200-91-3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  6. ^ "La France endeuillée par un nouvel attentat commis à Marseille". lesechos.fr (in French). 2017-10-01. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  7. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (1 October 2017). "Man shot dead by French army after killing two people at Marseille train station". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Charlton, Angela (2 October 2017). "Man who stabbed 2 women to death in Marseille, France, was released the day before". ABC News. AP. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  9. ^ Sage, Adam (2 October 2017). "Marseilles knifeman arrested for shoplifting day before double murder". The Times. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  10. ^ Mayjes, Toby (1 October 2017). "Knifeman 'stabs two women to death in terror attack' at trains station in Marseille". Metro. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  11. ^ "L'arme utilisée lors de l'attaque au couteau à Marseille est 'une lame d'une vingtaine de centimètres'". L'Obs (video) (in French). 2 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Attaque au couteau à Marseille: ce que l'on sait des deux victimes à la gare Saint-Charles" (in French). France Télévisions. AFP. 3 October 2017 [2 October 2017].
  13. ^ a b "ISIS claims one of its "soldier" stabs 2 women at train station in France". CBS News. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Attaque à Marseille : l'assaillant détenait un passeport tunisien". Le Monde (in French). 2 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017. the prosecutor of the Republic, François Molins [...] The prosecutor, who confirmed that the attacker had shouted "Allahu akbar" twice
  15. ^ Marc Leras; Emmanuel Jarry (1 October 2017). "Knifeman yelling 'Allahu Akbar' shot dead after killing two in France". Reuters. Retrieved 7 October 2017. Knifeman yelling 'Allahu Akbar' shot dead after killing two in France
  16. ^ Henry Samuel (2 October 2017). "Marseille killer 'arrested for shoplifting the day before knife attack and released'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 October 2017. Mr Molins confirmed that the attacker had shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) while launching the deadly attack with "a 20cm blade".
  17. ^ Zemouri, Aziz (2017-10-02). "Marseille : le caractère terroriste de l'attaque confirmé par le procureur". Le Point (in French). Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  18. ^ Gilles Rof; Elise Vincent; Luc Leroux (2 October 2017). "Marseille: the attack was claimed by the Islamic State". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 12 October 2017. the aggressor shouted "Allahu akbar", one of the determining factors that led the Paris public prosecutor's office to open a preliminary investigation for «murders in connection with a terrorist enterprise»
  19. ^ "Attaque au couteau à Marseille : qui étaient les deux victimes ?". Ouest-France (in French). 2 October 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2017. The anti-terrorist section of the Paris public prosecutor's office took over the investigation, opened for "murders in connection with a terrorist enterprise" and "attempted assassination of a person holding public authority".
  20. ^ McAuley, James (2017-10-02). "Marseille attacker was released the day before deadly knife assault". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  21. ^ a b "Italian police arrest younger brother of Marseille attacker". ABC News. Associated Press. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  22. ^ a b "No ties found between Marseille knife attacker and terror groups, says Tunisian government". 2017-10-05. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  23. ^ "Brother of Marseille attacker arrested in Italy: police". Reuters. 8 October 2017.
  24. ^ "Swiss police detain two Tunisians wanted for Marseille knife attack". Reuters. 10 October 2017.
  25. ^ "All 4 siblings of Marseille killer arrested, two freed". Yahoo News. AFP. 10 October 2017.
  26. ^ "Two passers-by killed in knife attack at Marseille train station". ABC News. 2 October 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.