Praise for US heroes
‘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
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