French President Macron Condemns 'Odious' Fatal Knife Attack on a Nation 'Hit Hard' by Coronavirus

At least two people have been killed in a knife attack in southeastern France, with the attacker arrested by police.

The attack occurred on Saturday morning in the town of Romans-sur-Isère, in the Drome department. Mayor Marie-Hélène Thoraval confirmed that two people had been killed, according to France 24. Thoraval said that at least four others had been wounded by the assailant, who targeted people shopping for food, Reuters reported.

"My first thoughts are with the victims and their relatives," Thoraval wrote in a statement posted to Twitter, noting that the attack took place at around 11 a.m. local time.

The unnamed man had no documents with him and claimed to be a Sudanese national born in 1987, the anti-terrorism prosecutor's office told the Associated Press. The prosecutor's office is looking into whether the man had a terrorist motive, though has not yet launched formal proceedings identifying it as a terrorist incident, France 24 reported.

Witnesses told Reuters that the man appeared to be attacking people at random and did so in several places while moving around the town center. According to the Associated Press, the man attacked staff and shoppers in a tobacco shop, a butchers and a supermarket, as well as in the street.

Grocery stores throughout France, which is under a nationwide coronavirus stay-at-home order, are allowed to open as they provide an essential service. France 24 noted that there are other bakeries and grocery stores on the street where the attack took place. It is not yet clear whether the attack was in any way linked to the national lockdown.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the "odious attack" and said the incident would be fully investigated. He noted that the attack comes at a difficult time for France, which he described as having been "hit hard" by the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks. As of Saturday, 6,520 people have died in France due to the virus, with a total of 83,000 infections and 43,000 recoveries, per Johns Hopkins University.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner wrote on Twitter that his thoughts went out to the victims and their loved ones. Castaner said that the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police in Lyon had been tasked with investigating the "odious" attack. Castaner later praised the first responders and medical staff who treated the wounded.

The motive for the attack is not yet clear, and French police urged people not to spread rumors or disinformation and monitor official government channels for updates.

France, knife, attack, police, stabbing, Romans-sur-Isere
French police officers are pictured in the centre of Romans-sur-Isere, on April 4, 2020, after a man attacked several people with a knife. JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images/Getty