Three unarmed U.S. Marines foiled a potentially serious terrorist attack on a bullet train between Amsterdam and Paris when they tackled a Moroccan gunmen armed with an AK-47 and at least 200 rounds of ammunition.
At least one of the Marines was shot and is in critical condition. Two others were also shot, including a Briton and a Frenchman.
The 26-year-old Moroccan national, who was known to security services, came out of the toilet brandishing the gun and opened fire. Fortunately, two US Marines were nearby and overpowered him before he could massacre passengers.
The suspected terrorist had at least nine full magazines of ammunition holding almost 200 rounds. He was also carrying a knife.
Unfortunately, one of the Marines was shot and is believed to be in a critical condition.
Speaking in Arras, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised the Marines for their timely intervention.
He said: ‘Thanks to them we have averted a drama.
‘(The Americans were) particularly courageous and showed extreme bravery in extremely difficult circumstances.’
The man was arrested by police near the town of Arras in northern France.
Train company Thalys confirmed the incident happened. A spokesman said: ‘The situation is under control, the travellers are safe. The train stopped and the emergency services are on site.’
No one at the SNCF French railways was immediately available to comment on the report.
A report on Twitter said that three US Marines detained the gunman until emergency services arrived.
The incident happened at approximately 6pm local time.
French newspaper Le Monde is reporting that one Briton may be among the injured.
The motives behind the attack were not immediately known, although a spokesman for the interior minister said: ‘It is too early to speak of a terrorist link’.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has been active in Morocco in recent years, so you have to think authorities will be looking closely for any links to that terrorist group.
But this could have gotten extremely bloody without the intervention of the Marines. A moving train is a perfect place for a mass-casualty terrorist attack. Passengers are trapped in a narrow corridor with no place to hide. They can’t get off either. One could easily imagine dozens of dead and wounded passengers before the gunman would have run out of targets.
Kudos to our Marines who performed courageously under fire.
Well, they weren’t Marines — an airman and a national guardsman from Oregon — but their actions were certainly heroic enough. This Wall Street Journal story has the details of their efforts to disarm the terrorist before he could get started.