Marseille attack: Knifeman shot dead by army as one killed in stabbing

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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.

Update 9.45am: A man who stabbed two women to death at Marseille's main railway station had been arrested and released the day before the attack, French officials have said.

The terrorist was shot and reportedly killed by police forces, according to Marseille authorities quoted by the British Express news site.

Two young women who were knifed to death by a suspected jihadist outside Marseille train station on Sunday were two cousins aged 20, French prosecutors have confirmed.

The attacker was not carrying any identification, Marseille police said, but French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said during a news conference that "The attacker had several identities". But officials also took pains to emphasize the circumstances of the attack were far from clear.

After having viewed video footage of the incident, Collomb said the suspect attacked one woman before fleeing, then returned to kill the second victim, reports Le Monde.

French authorities are studying the suspect's phone and working to determine whether he had accomplices or direct links to the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the stabbing on Sunday local time.

The Saint-Charles station is the same one where four Americans studying overseas fell victim to acid attacks last month.

Two knife attacks prompted an arrest in Canada and a shootout in France on Sunday.

The area around Marseille's central station was sealed off following the attack.

AFP, citing police officials it did not name, said the killer shouted "Allahu Akbar", or "God is Great", when he began his rampage. The Islamic State said the attacker was one of its "soldiers".

The law, created to replace the state of emergency that France has been under since the November 2015 Paris attacks, would come into force on November 1 if approved by both houses of parliament.

The Paris prosecutors' office said that a counter-terrorism investigation has been opened.

The soldiers at the station were part of Operation Sentinelle, which involves widespread army foot patrols as a deterrent measure after a series of terrorist attacks in France since early 2015.

France is a leading partner in the US-led global coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria, where the jihadists are being driven back.

"I had just arrived at the station when everyone started running".

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