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Everything We Know So Far About the Attack on the French Chemical Factory

This morning, a man was found decapitated at a factory near Lyon.

by VICE Staff
Jun 26 2015, 2:07pm

Police outside the factory. Screen shot via.

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

For the third time this year, France is reeling from an Islamist terror attack.

Five months after the shootings at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris—in which 11 staff members were killed—and two months after a suspected Algerian jihadist allegedly shot and killed a woman in the Paris suburbs, a gas factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, outside Lyon, was attacked this morning, leaving one dead.

The BBC reports that a man was found decapitated, his head left on a wire fence next to his body and his face covered in Arabic writing. Local media has said that an Islamist black flag was found at the site.

French paper Dauphiné Libéré has identified the victim as the manager of a transport company who they say was at the factory for a delivery, though they haven't given his name. This has yet to be confirmed by official sources.

The plant, belonging to a US-owned company named Air Products, is a producer of industrial gases and chemicals for a variety of industries, including agriculture and medicine. According to police, a pick-up truck driven by two men crashed into a collection of gas cylinders, causing an explosion at around 9:50 AM local time that injured two people.

The first suspect, named as Yassine Sali by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, has reportedly been arrested. In a statement, Cazeneuve said that Sali was known by French security services: "He had been noted for his radicalization, but was not known to have any links to terrorist figures."

Reuters, spelling his name Yassin Sahli, reported that the suspect is a 35-year-old professional driver who lived in the Lyon suburbs, but added that there is not yet official confirmation of this.

According to the Dauphiné Libéré, a second suspect has been arrested at his home nearby.

Air Products released a statement confirming that the victim wasn't one of their employees shortly after the news broke:

"We can confirm that an incident occurred at our facility in L'Isle-d'Abeau, France this morning.

"Our priority at this stage is to take care of our employees, who have been evacuated from the site and all accounted for.

"Emergency services are on site and have contained the situation. The site is secure. Our crisis and emergency response teams have been activated and are working closely with all relevant authorities.

"Further information will be released as soon as it becomes available."

French paper Le Monde reports that the plant may have been chosen as a target due to the fact it contains a large amount of harmful gases and potentially explosive materials.

Eyewitness Thierry Gricourt, who works near the factory, told French TV what he saw:

"We heard a fairly loud noise shortly before 10 o'clock. We didn't get too concerned as we're not far from the airport Saint Exupery, so we thought it was an airplane passing by lower than usual.

"And then several minutes later we saw a very large deployment of security forces—the police and fire engines, with lots of trucks deployed around our road. We can see that several roads are blocked with police officers at the corner of every road."

French President Francois Hollande, who was attending a summit in Brussels, attended a press conference giving what details he knew of the attack. He condemned it as a "pure terrorist attack," and said "there is no doubt the intention was to provoke an attack, an explosion."

AFP reports that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the attack was an act of "Islamist terrorism" that "shows the jihadist threat remains very high."

In Tunisia, at least 27 people have been killed on a beach by two gunmen. There are no details as yet about the nationalities of the victims, but during the holy month of Ramadan those sunbathing tend to be tourists. That would make this the second major attack on tourists in Tunisia this year, following an attack three months ago on the Bardo Museum in Tunis, which killed 21 people, also mainly tourists. Read more on VICE News.

This story will be updated periodically.