Four people are in custody in connection to a beheading and explosion at a gas factory in south-eastern France – and police are still searching buildings for evidence.
Heavily armed police investigating this morning’s brutal terror attack in France have removed a woman and child from the home of Yassine Salhi – the
suspected Islamist Muslim accused of beheading his boss and trying to blow up the American-owned gas factory.
He was known to factory personnel because he came in regularly for deliveries, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said.
Police swooped on the apartment building in Saint-Priest, in the suburbs of the city of Lyon, just hours after the 30-year-old delivery driver was arrested on suspicion of writing Arabic slogans on his employer’s severed head and hanging it on a fence outside the nearby headquarters of Air Products.
Salhi is accused of going on to crash his Ford Fusion delivery van through the factory’s gates before ramming it into several large gas cannisters left in the car park – apparently in the hope they would explode and destroy the entire factory complex.
The explosions were relatively small, however, leaving just two factory workers with non life-threatening injuries.
The murdered man – who French media say owned the delivery company Salhi worked for – is believed to have been killed elsewhere before his corpse was dumped at the factory site in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier and his head impaled on a fence 30 feet away surrounded by homemade Islamist flags.
Speaking before the raid on her home, Salhi’s wife described her husband as a ‘normal Muslim’ who left for work as usual at 7am this morning. ‘My heart stopped when I heard he was a suspect….I expected him this afternoon,’ the unnamed woman told French radio station Europe 1.
Salhi – who is understood to have been known to security services since at least 2006 – reportedly told arresting officers that he is a member of the Islamic State terror group. He is believed not to have a criminal record and an investigation into his ‘possible radicalisation’ was dropped in 2008.
A local newspaper is reporting that the unnamed dead man was Salhi’s boss and that their company regularly delivered to Air Products.
He was known for links to extremism but not identified as a high risk who would carry out an attack, says Cazeneuve.
Mo’ Muslims, mo’ problems. 1,400 years of evidence.
Yassin Salhi, 35, “has also given details about the circumstances” surrounding the killing, according to investigation sources, who said he would be transferred to Paris for further questioning later Sunday.
Salhi’s confession came after it emerged the married father-of-three sent a gruesome selfie photo of himself and the severed head to a WhatsApp number in Canada.
The victim, a 54-year-old local businessman named Hervé Cornara (see photo below), was found with Arabic inscriptions scrawled on him and Islamic flags were also found on the site at the small town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Lyon.
His head was “hung onto the fence surrounded by two Islamic flags bearing the Shahada, the profession of (the Muslim) faith,” said French prosecutor Francois Molins.
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