Praise for US he­roes

CityPress - - News -

‘Ilooked over at Spencer and said: ‘Let’s go.’” This was how two US ser­vice­men took a de­ci­sion to tackle an armed man in­side a high-speed train trav­el­ling be­tween Am­s­ter­dam and Paris, pre­vent­ing what could have been a blood bath. The New York Times re­ported that Alek Skar­latos, a mem­ber of the Ore­gon Na­tional Guard re­turn­ing from Afghanistan, and friend Spencer Stone, a mem­ber of the US air force, had in­stantly taken the de­ci­sion to tackle the man who was armed with an au­to­matic ri­fle. They man­aged to sub­due him and hit him over the head with his own ri­fle un­til he was un­con­scious.

“I grabbed the hand­gun, got that away from the guy and threw it. Then I grabbed the AK-47, which was at his feet, and started muz­zle-bump­ing him in the head with it. Ev­ery­body just started beat­ing the guy while Spencer held the choke­hold un­til he went un­con­scious,” said Skar­latos.

The at­tack hap­pened on Fri­day on Bel­gian ter­ri­tory, near the north­ern French town of Ar­ras.

The 26-year-old man of Moroccan ori­gin who is known to Span­ish author­i­ties as a ter­ror­ism sus­pect, had wounded sev­eral pas­sen­gers be­fore the Amer­i­can pair and oth­ers sub­dued him.

In the en­su­ing scuf­fle, Stone was cut by the sus­pect in the neck and hand, and is re­ceiv­ing treat­ment in a hos­pi­tal in north­ern France.

The at­tacker had a Kalash­nikov, an au­to­matic pis­tol, am­mu­ni­tion and a box cut­ter in his lug­gage, ac­cord­ing to French po­lice who ar­rested him at a rail­way sta­tion in Ar­ras.

Sev­eral other pas­sen­gers were in­volved in re­strain­ing the gun­man.

The New York Times quoted Chris Nor­man, a Bri­tish busi­ness­man in­ter­viewed on lo­cal tele­vi­sion, as say­ing: “The guy ac­tu­ally came up, he pulled out a cut­ter, started cut­ting Spencer. He cut Spencer be­hind the neck, he nearly cut his thumb off, we even­tu­ally got him un­der con­trol. It could have been a real car­nage.”

Al Jazeera re­ported Pres­i­dent Barack Obama as hav­ing praised the two off-duty US sol­diers, thank­ing them for their “courage and quick think­ing”.

“Echo­ing the state­ments of French author­i­ties, the pres­i­dent ex­pressed his pro­found grat­i­tude for the courage and quick think­ing of sev­eral pas­sen­gers, in­clud­ing US ser­vice mem­bers, who self­lessly sub­dued the at­tacker,” said the White House Press Of­fice.

“While the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the at­tack is in its early stages, it is clear that their heroic ac­tions may have pre­vented a far worse tragedy. We will re­main in close con­tact with French author­i­ties as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion pro­ceeds,” said the White House.

Ac­cord­ing to the AFP news agency, a Span­ish of­fi­cial linked to that coun­try’s an­titer­ror­ism unit said the at­tacker had lived in Spain un­til last year and had then moved to France.

He trav­elled to Syria, and had then re­turned to

PHOTO: REUTERS

CA­SU­ALTY French emer­gency ser­vices mem­bers trans­port a vic­tim af­ter the shoot­ing on the Am­s­ter­dam-toParis high­speed train in Ar­ras, France, on Fri­day. The man wounded sev­eral pas­sen­gers be­fore two off-duty US ser­vice­men and oth­ers on the train sub­dued him

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