Attackers tried to blow up an American-owned chemical plant in Lyon, France, on Friday — reportedly leaving behind a severed head on the factory’s gate and a decapitated body with a message written on it in Arabic. French President François Hollande left a European Union summit meeting in Brussels and returned to Paris to deal with the aftermath. “The attack was of a terrorist nature since a body was discovered, decapitated and with inscriptions,” Hollande said.
Tunisia and Kuwait also faced deadly attacks on Friday morning. In Tunisia, at least 37 people — mostly tourists, many reportedly from Western Europe — are dead after gunmen stormed a beach resort. It seemed similar to an attack at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis earlier this year, where 24 people were killed. One of the attackers was reportedly killed by police at the scene. The Guardian reports that the attack “seems to be the deadliest attack on tourists in the Arab world since the 1997 massacre in Luxor Egypt.”
At least 25 people are dead after a suicide bomber attacked a Shiite mosque filled with reportedly more than 2,000 people in Kuwait. More than 200 people have been injured. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on social media, making this the first time the Islamic State has targeted Kuwait. According to the New York Times, U.S. counterterrorism officials are currently trying to determine if the attacks were linked.
Earlier this month, Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani encouraged followers to attack during Ramadan. “You all must rush to it and be keen on waging invasion in this eminent month, and commit martyrdom in it.” ISIS proclaimed itself a caliphate a year ago, on June 29.
Investigators in France have launched an investigation into “assassination and attempted assassinations in an organized group with a terrorist undertaking.”
Hollande briefly nodded to other recent attacks in France this year, including the shooting at Charlie Hebdo, during remarks on Friday. “Everybody remembers what happened before in our country, and not just in our country. There is therefore a lot of emotion.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is in Brussels, said, “This is a threat that faces all of us. These events have taken place in Tunisia and in France but they can take place anywhere. We all face this threat.”
The attackers — one, believed to be Yassine Salhi, has been arrested — rammed into the chemical plant “to cause an explosion,” Hollande said. Neighbors say they could hear noises coming from the factory; one told the New York Times, “It was not very loud; we did not know it was an explosion.”At least one flag with Arabic writing on it was left behind at the scene.
The factory is owned by Air Products, a company based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, that “supplies gases, chemicals and equipment for products ranging from TVs and mobile phones to sports cars and running shoes,” according to the Guardian. The company said in a statement this morning, “Our priority at this stage is to take care of our employees, who have been evacuated from the site and all accounted for.”
The man who was decapitated is believed to be someone who arrived at the factory for a delivery, and was reportedly the boss of the suspect, according to Reuters.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said of the arrested suspect Yassin Sahli, “This person was under investigation for radicalization but this investigation was not renewed in 2008. He had no police record.” Salhi’s wife has also been arrested, as have at least two other suspected accomplices.
This post has been updated with new developments.