Four people have been arrested in connection with the terror attack Friday on an Air Products & Chemicals Inc. gas plant near Lyon in southeastern France in which one person was decapitated and two were injured.
A suspect, identified as Yassin Salhi, his wife, sister and another person are being questioned, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said at a press conference.
“The victim was the chief of a transport company where Yassin S. had been employed since March 2015,” he said.
The attacker beheaded the man and posted the severed head on a fence at the factory’s entrance with two flags carrying inscriptions in Arabic, before driving into the plant at high speed and ramming into gas cannisters.
“The attack is terrorist in nature when you have a decapitated body with inscriptions,” President Francois Hollande said earlier Friday. “There’s no doubt that the intention was to cause an explosion.”
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who visited the site of the attack, said the suspect arrested had been under surveillance from 2006 to 2008 because of links to Salafist movements, although he didn’t have a criminal record. The suspect, a father of three, is from the Lyon region.
The assault came after 17 people were killed at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery in Paris in January by a radicalized trio, catapulting France’s capital onto the front pages of newspapers around the world.
The French government mobilized 10,000 soldiers to guard vulnerable sites around the country after those attacks.
In the attack on Friday, It’s not clear why the plant was targeted, Cazeneuve said. The attacker and his boss had been expected to make a delivery at the Air Products plant, authorities said.
The assault was at a factory belonging to Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Air Products. Situated in an industrial zone outside the French town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, the site produces gas used by industry and hospitals, according to a website dedicated to local industries.
In addition to the factory, the company has a customer services center in Aubervilliers outside Paris.
Air Products said in an e-mailed statement that all its employees are accounted for and that the gas plant site has been secured.