Marseille Knife Attack: Karim L. ‘Chose Victims Based on Nationality’

Marseille
BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images

The assailant who stabbed several people in a frenzied knife attack in central Marseille this week chose his victims on the basis of their nationality, according to reports.

Three men and one women were injured in Tuesday’s attack, which saw convicted killer Karim L. shot dead by police this week after he went on a stabbing spree at just before 5 pm on the Canebière, Marseille’s famous historic high street.

Local media said the 36-year-old homeless man, who had previously spent 14 years in prison for murdering his father, began his attack on pedestrians — one of whom was reportedly seriously hurt after sustaining slash wounds to the throat — near the city’s ancient port before progressing towards the Noailles quarter.

Approached by police who rushed to the scene, he pulled out a handgun and shot at the officers, who fatally wounded the suspect when they returned fire, authorities told the French press.

A police source told the broadsheet Le Figaro that Karim had “addressed passers-by in French and in a foreign language, quizzing people on their nationality, before stabbing them — or not — based on the answers he received”.

Authorities are not currently investigating the attack as terror-related, according to reports, with Marseille’s public prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux telling a press conference that the assailant had not shouted “Allahu Akhbar” during his stabbing spree.

Jean-Claude Gaudin, the city’s mayor, wished victims a speedy recovery but also warned locals not to “peddle false information” regarding the incident, adding in a statement: “The investigation will determine whether it was a [terror] attack or a tragic news item”.

Local media reported last year that an increasingly deadly drugs trafficking scene and an outbreak of murders left police officers in Marseille — where an estimated 30 to 40 per cent of the population is Muslim — feeling “helpless” in the face of escalating violence plaguing the heavily multicultural French port city, which is regularly named as the most dangerous metropolis in Europe.

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