Four American college students were sprayed in the face with acid at a train station in the French city of Marseilles Sunday morning, but French authorities thus far do not think that extremist views motivated the 41-year-old woman who was arrested as the alleged assailant.
Boston College, a private Jesuit university in Massachusetts, said in a statement that the four students – Courtney Siverling, Charlotte Kaufman, Michelle Krug and Kelsey Korsten – were treated for burns at a Marseilles hospital. The statement said the four all were juniors studying abroad, three of them at the college’s Paris program.
“It appears that the students are fine, considering the circumstances, though they may require additional treatment for burns,” said Nick Gozik, who directs Boston College’s Office of International Programs. “We have been in contact with the students and their parents and remain in touch with French officials and the U.S. Embassy regarding the incident.”
Police in France described the suspect as “disturbed” and said the attack was not thought at this point to be terror-related, according the university’s statement.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said earlier Sunday that its counter-terrorism division had decided for the time being not to assume jurisdiction for investigating the attack. Marseilles is a port city in southern France that is closer to Barcelona than to Paris, but the Paris prosecutor’s office has responsibility for all terror-related cases in France.
A spokeswoman for the Marseilles prosecutor’s office told The Associated Press in a telephone call that the suspect did not make any extremist threats or declarations during the late morning attack at the city’s Saint Charles train station. She said there were no obvious indications that the assailant’s actions were terror-related.
The prosecutor’s spokeswoman said two of the victims were treated for shock.
The Marseille fire department said two of the victims were “slightly injured” with acid but did not require emergency medical treatment from medics at the scene, said a spokeswoman for the fire department.
Regional newspaper La Provence, quoting unidentified police officials, reported that the suspect had a history of mental-health problems and noted that she remained at the site of the attack without trying to flee.
A spokesman for the United States embassy in Paris said the U.S. consulate in Marseilles was in contact with French authorities.
Updated Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 5:20 pm