France identifies suspect in beheading murder

Agence France-Presse
French police and firefighters gather at the entrance of the Air Products company in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier on June 26, 2015 after an attacker carrying an Islamist flag killed one person and injured several others.

A 35-year-old man arrested in connection with the attack Friday on a French gas factory was investigated nine years ago for radicalization and has links to the Salafist movement, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

"He was investigated in 2006 for radicalization, but (the probe) was not renewed in 2008. He had no criminal record," Cazeneuve said.

He identified the suspect as Yacine Salhi, 35, who was known to have lived around Lyon, France's second largest city, near the site of the attack.

"This individual has links with the Salafist movement, but had not been identified as having participated in activities of a terrorist nature," added the minister who rushed to the scene in eastern France.

Salhi had remained on intelligence authorities' radar, Cazeneuve said.

Salafism is an extremist, puritanical form of the majority Sunni branch of Islam.

One person was killed and two injured during the attack in the small town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, around 25 miles from Lyon. A decapitated head was found pinned to the gates of the factory.

Cazeneuve said a local firefighter who rushed to the scene had overpowered and "neutralized" Salhi.

The minister said he had shown "courage and kept a cool head."

"I would like to offer my deepest thanks to the firefighter and his colleagues who came to the scene for their promptness and effectiveness."

Police have taken an unknown number of people into custody for questioning in connection with the case, but it was not immediately clear if any of them played a role in the attack, Cazeneuve said.

Authorities were still working to identify the victim of the beheading, but he is believed to be a local businessman.