A man who killed two women in a knife attack outside Marseille's train station had only just been released on the eve of the attack after an earlier arrest for shoplifting, authorities have confirmed. The man was identified by his fingerprints after being shot dead when he tried to attack soldiers in the incident on Sunday, 1 October.
The fingerprints linked the attacker with seven different identities involved in incidents in France and North Africa since 2005, though Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters that the man had no previous convictions in France.
Authorities said the man was arrested in the Lyon area two days before the fatal double attacks and held overnight before being released. Yves Lefebvre of the Unite SGP Police union told the Associated Press that there was nothing out of the ordinary in his being released as shoplifting arrests are usually dealt with by a short police report and later court summons.
CCTV from the crime scene showed the man sitting at a bench for several minutes before suddenly stabbing a woman and running off. He returned later to attack a second woman. After being shot with two bullets by soldiers, the man was found with two knives and a phone which is now being checked to see if he had any direct links with Isis, who claimed responsibility for the attack.
"Nothing allowed us to suspect there was a threat of radicalisation during the [Lyon] arrest," Lefebvre told AP. During the arrest, the man handed over a Tunisian passport as ID. He also told police that he was divorced, a drug-user and was unemployed aside from some occasional painting and decorating jobs, according to the Guardian.
Isis's claim of responsibility did not give any indication of direct link to the attacker. Some witnesses said the man shouted "Allahu Akbar" [Islamic chant: Allah is the greatest] leading prosecutors to open a terrorism investigation, Molins said.