‘Terror’ Shooting Wounds Three on International Train in Belgium

("Thalys Amsterdam Centraal". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thalys_Amsterdam_Centraal.jpg#/media/File:Thalys_Amsterdam_Centraal.jpg)

A gunman on Aug. 21 wounded three people on an international train in Belgium, near the French border. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called the shooting a “terrorist attack” and French counterterrorism police are investigating.

Two United States Marines on the train heard a weapon being loaded in a bathroom. When the man exited the toilet, the unarmed Marines tackled him. One Marine was injured. French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade was injured slightly by broken glass.

A man, believed to be a 26-year-old Moroccan, was arrested at the station in Arras, France. Some passengers reportedly leapt from the train as it passed through Henin-Beaumont. The high-speed Thalys service was headed from Amsterdam to Paris.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve travelled to Arras after the incident. He has met with passengers including Anglade. He said the two Marines are “particularly courageous and showed great bravery in very difficult circumstances […] Without their composure we could have been confronted with a terrible incident.” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls also expressed gratitude to the Marines.

The suspect is reported to have been carrying knives, a kalashnikov rifle, and a handgun. Press reports suggest intelligence agencies were aware of him. Rail operator SNCF say over 550 passengers were on board. Reports indicate the shooting was towards the rear.

Local prosecutors said counterterror resources were involved “in view of the weaponry used, the way it happened and the context”. French President Francois Hollande promised “Everything is being done to shed light on this tragedy.”

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