2 women killed in knife attack in French train station

French police officers work outside Saint-Charles train station in Marseille on October 1, 2017, after a man armed with a knife killed two people before being shot by soldiers patrolling the area.

In a statement, the UK Foreign Office said: "Following an incident at Marseille St Charles train station we are advising British nationals in the vicinity to take care and follow the advice of the local security authorities".

The two victims, both women, were 17 and 20 years old.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack, the latest of several targeting France.

After the lunchtime attack, anti-terror prosecutors told AFP they had opened an investigation into "killings linked to a terrorist organisation" and the "attempted killing of a public official".

The scene has been sealed off and police have asked people to avoid the area. In addition, authorities are investigating the incident as terrorism and are now probing any ties that the suspect may have had to terror organizations.

There were few details on the attacker's identity.

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The soldier was part of a Sentinelle patrol, a force deployed across France in the wake of Islamist attacks that began about two years ago.

A witness told the Reuters news agency that she saw a man pull out a knife from his sleeve and then stab a young girl and a woman while shouting something that sounded like "God is greatest" in Arabic.

Police shut down and sealed off the station and French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb immediately went to Marseille.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Sunday that he was "deeply angered by this barbaric act". France is a member of the US-led coalition battling ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

One had her throat slit by the knifeman, who was seen on video camera footage striking his first victim from behind and then fleeing - only to return to launch a frenzied attack on her cousin.

The Saint-Charles station is a similar one where four Americans contemplating overseas succumbed to corrosive assaults a month ago.

Clarke said the attacks, however deadly, suggest ISIS' capabilities have been degraded from the large, complex operations like Paris in November 2015 or Brussels in March 2015.

  • Adam Floyd