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France's anti-terror prosecutor probes knife attack in southeast town

Emergency services arrive on a scene of a knife attack in Romans-sur-Isere near Lyon, France April 4, 2020 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. Twitter/@imyurika_ /via REUTERS

LYON, France (Reuters) - France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office will investigate a knife attack in the southeastern French town of Romans-sur-Isère on Saturday in which a man killed two people and wounded five.

The attack took place while people were out shopping. Like the rest of France, the town is currently under a coronavirus lockdown, although residents are allowed out to buy essentials.

“Preliminary investigations have revealed a determined murderous course aimed at seriously disturbing public order by intimidation or terror,” the prosecutor’s office said in the statement.

It said that a search of the home of the 33-year-old suspect of Sudanese origin, revealed documents with a religious connotation in which the author complained in particular of living in a country of “unbelievers”.

The suspect was arrested while kneeling on a sidewalk and praying in the Arabic language, the prosecutor’s office said in the statement, adding that one of his acquaintances was also arrested.

“Under these circumstances, the National Counter-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office decided to open an investigation,” it said.

The attacks took place in the morning outside a bakery where customers were queuing, and at shops in the town centre, according to Mayor Marie-Hélène Thoraval.

Witnesses told Reuters the man struck at random and in several places while moving around the town centre.

Reporting by Catherine Lagrange and Bate Felix; Writing Bate Felix; Editing by Angus MacSwan