Destinations Magazine

Derailed

By Stizzard

A MAINLINE train station in France at the end of summer hums with the thrill of journeys taken and families reunited. The French travel more by high-speed rail than any other European nation. Trains in the French mind are about more than just efficiency and convenience: they are a symbol of national prowess. Which is why the thwarted attack on August 21st on a high-speed train bound for Paris has stirred up a particularly difficult debate.

The attempted assault took place when Ayoub El Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan-born man, emerged from an on-board lavatory shirtless and armed with an automatic rifle, nine clips of bullets, a hand gun and a box-cutter. Thanks to the fortuitous presence and quick thinking of two off-duty American servicemen, who together with other passengers overpowered him, nobody was killed. François Hollande, the French president, said that the assault would otherwise have “degenerated into carnage”. He awarded the Légion d’honneur, the country’s highest honour, to six of those who intervened.

The French public prosecutor, François Molins, has opened a formal investigation into attempted murder in connection with a terrorist act. Mr El Khazzani claimed that he found the weapons in a park in Brussels, the Belgian capital, where he boarded the train, and that he meant only to rob passengers, not kill them….

The Economist: Europe


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