Marine Capt. Richard Ulsh, the Stuttgart, Germany-based spokesman for Marines in Europe, said he was unable to confirm that the men who foiled the attack were Marines. Another American, college student Anthony Sadler, and a British man living in France, Chris Norman, jumped in to help, they said.
He was neutralized by two American passengers before being handed over to police and placed in custody. Commending the involvement of what he said were two marines, Cazeneuve said, “Without their courage we would have surely faced a awful tragedy”.
He said the two unnamed Americans were “particularly courageous and showed extreme bravery in extremely hard circumstances”. His rifle had a short handle so it was more compact and he also had a handgun and knives. “The train stopped and the emergency services are on site”, the Thalys official Twitter account tweeted in response to several online requests for comments.
The Pentagon said one of those hurt was a member of the US military but his injuries were not life-threatening.
The motive for the attack was unknown. Arras is about 115 miles (185 kilometers) north of Paris.
Investigators from France’s anti-terror police are leading the inquiry, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
Shots were fired, and one report says there is a woman who is “seriously” injured, according to The Mirror.
Christophe Piednoel, spokesman from the French railway company SNCF, said the suspect carried an automatic weapon and a bladed weapon. “The President’s thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims of this attack, and he wishes them speedy and full recoveries”.
The attack happened around 6pm local time.
The 26-year-old Moroccan national, who was known to security services, came out of the toilet brandishing the gun and opened fire.
French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade was reportedly in “shock” as he heard gunfire in the auto next to him.
“Both men were on stretchers”, witness Nicolas Martinage, 17, said at Arras station.
The gunman was reported to have boarded the train in Brussels where luggage does not pass through X-ray machines or other forms of screening.
In January, 12 people were killed at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Pierre-Henry Brandet, the ministry’s spokesman told the news channel BFMTV that it’s still too early to call it a terrorist attack.