Isis have claimed responsibility for an attack in the French city of Marseille in which a man with a knife attacked people at its main train station killing two women before soldiers fatally shot him.

French police warned people to avoid Saint Charles train station, tweeting that an operation was underway. Soldiers and police took up positions outside the station, which was evacuated on Sunday (1 October).

Three police officials said one woman was stabbed to death while two of the officials said the other woman's throat was slit.

The assailant was shot dead by soldiers who were patrolling inside the station. The officials were speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorised to speak publicly about the operation.

One victim's throat was slit while the other was stabbed in the stomach. They were aged 17 and 20. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, described it as a "barbarous act".

French police tape
French police tape (file photo) Getty

The Paris prosecutors' office said that a counter-terrorism investigation has been opened. No further details were immediately given, including the motive for the attack. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb tweeted that he would travel to the scene.

Isis claimed that it was responsible for the attack, via its news outlet Amaq, and it comes after a tape that was supposedly that of the leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Earlier in September, four American college students were attacked with acid at the same train station in Marseille. At the time, French authorities said the assailant was suffering from a mental illness.