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Hollande: Attack on French industrial site of a 'terrorist nature'

An attack on an industrial gases factory in a southeastern commune in France has left one person dead and two injured. French President Francois Hollande has said the attack was of a "terrorist nature."

At least one man has been arrested for suspicion of launching an attack on US-based industrial gases company Air Productions in the southeastern commune of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier on Thursday.

The attack left several injured. A decapitated body was found on the factory's grounds while the head was attached to the facility's gate and covered in Arabic script.

The primary suspect in the attack was apprehended by French police shortly after the attack.

"He was investigated in 2006 for radicalization, but (the probe) was not renewed in 2008. He had no criminal record," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters near the scene of the attack.

"This individual has links with the Salafist movement, but had not been identified as having participated in activities of a terrorist nature," Cazeneuve said.

The interior minister added that police also detained possible accomplices. The attack marks the first of its kind on an industrial site in France.

'Terrorist nature'

In Brussels, French President Francois Hollande responded to the attack, saying it was of a "terrorist nature."

"The attack was in a vehicle driven by one person, perhaps accompanied by another, which rammed its way at high speed into this establishment which contained bottles of gas," Hollande said a hastily-prepared press briefing.

Hollande was in Brussels attending an EU summit aimed at hammering out the details of some of Europe's pressing issues, including a Greek bailout and the distribution of asylum seekers among member states.

"The intent was without doubt to cause an explosion. The attack was of a terrorist nature since a body was discovered, decapitated, and with inscriptions. As I speak, there is one fatality and two injured," the French president said.

Hollande left an EU summit for Paris where he would convene a special cabinet meeting at the Elysee presidential palace at 15:30 (1300 UTC).

"At times like this, we must first express our solidarity for the victim. My summit colleagues expressed their solidarity this morning. Everyone remembers what happened in our country and not only in our country," Hollande said, referring to terrorist attacks on the

offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo

and a

kosher supermarket

that left 17 people dead in January.

Frankreich Anschlag bei Grenoble

France's gendarmerie immediately responded to the attack, cordoning off the area

European leaders react

Following the attack, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Germany stands united with France, calling the attack an "act of terror and fanaticism which we condemn in the strongest terms."

"We extend our deepest symptathies to the victims' families and see ourselves as united with France in defense of our free society against terror's blind hate," Steinmeier said in a statement.

British Prime Minister David Camron conveyed his sympathies to the French president over the "appalling terrorist acts," reported Reuters news agency.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy also condemned the attack in a tweet, saying that such "barbarism" would be combated by the democratic world.

"I firmly condemn the attack carried out in Lyon (near Saint-Quentin-Fallavier). Barbarism will always be confronted by unity among democrats," Rajoy said.

ls/jil (Reuters, AFP)

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