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France Says Knife Attacker Was Tunisian With Italian Papers

  • Associated Press

French police point a gun at a man on the ground (C) as a stabbed woman lies (L) while soldiers secure the area following an attack on October 1, 2017 at the Saint-Charles main train station in the French Mediterranean city of Marseille.

France's interior minister says the man who fatally stabbed two young women in Marseille was a Tunisian who had lived in Italy.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on France-Inter radio Tuesday that the assailant had Italian residency and a valid Tunisian passport. The attacker was killed by soldiers after Sunday's stabbings, which were claimed by the Islamic State group.

Collomb urged more information-sharing among governments about such cases.

One of the seven IDs the attacker used in previous encounters with French police was a Tunisian passport identifying him as Ahmed H. A judicial official said Tuesday that authorities have determined that is the Marseille attacker's true identity.

Italian news agency ANSA said Rome prosecutors had opened a terrorism investigation into Hanachi's contacts in Italy, after reports emerged that he had lived in Aprilia, south of Rome, from about 2006-2014. Italian daily La Repubblica said he lived in an area with a sizeable Tunisian community, and had married, then divorced, an Italian woman.

The area — Aprilia, Latina and Fondi — has already seen four people expelled from Italy for alleged radicalization-related reasons, La Repubblica said.

Citing state security, Italy has since 2015 expelled more than 200 people who are suspected of radicalizing others or recruiting would-be jihadis — offenses that wouldn't necessarily hold up in court but which the Interior Ministry uses as reason to expel them.

The French interior minister also said he has ordered an investigation into why the Marseille attacker had seven encounters with French police and had no residency papers, but wasn't expelled from the country. His latest arrest was just two days before the stabbing, when he was picked up for shoplifting and released.

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