Posted: 22 August, 2015
Two off-duty soldiers save the day in Europe
US servicemen have overpowered a gunman armed with a Kalashnikov who opened fire on a high-speed train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris.
According to initial information from investigators, two of the men who tackled the gunman were US troops who had apparently heard him loading his weapons in a toilet cubicle and confronted him after he came out.
Two people were wounded in the incident, with the Pentagon confirming that one was a member of the US military.
The gunman had a Kalashnikov, an automatic pistol and a box cutter, one police source said.
The suspect, who was arrested when the train stopped at the northern
French town of Arras, was a 26-year-old from Morocco or of Moroccan origin who was known to the intelligence services, French investigators said.
US President Barack Obama praised the passengers for their actions.
"The president expressed his profound gratitude for the courage and quick thinking of several passengers, including US service members, who selflessly subdued the attacker," a White House official said.
"Their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy."
The motives for the shooting were not immediately known, although French prosecutors said counter-terrorism investigators had taken over the probe.
"I condemn the terrorist attack on the Thalys (train) and express my sympathy to the victims," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Twitter of the incident, which occurred while the train was in Belgium.
The man opened fire at 5.50pm, train operator Thalys said.
The gunman was arrested 10 minutes later when the train, with 554 passengers on board, stopped at Arras station where armed police were waiting, a spokesman for the French state rail company SNCF said.
French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, who appeared in the 1986 cult film Betty Blue, suffered minor injuries as he tried to activate the train's alarm, a SNCF spokesman said.
The gunman had probably boarded the train in Brussels, a police source said.
Media reports said a Briton was also injured, but the Foreign Office in London said it had no reports of any British casualties.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed no Australians were injured in the incident.
French President Francois Hollande said "everything is being done to shed light" on the shooting.