THE decapitated head of a company director was found impaled on a fence at a gas plant near Lyon, France, yesterday morning.
The gruesome discovery at the factory in St-Quentin-Fallavier was found next to a banner covered in Arabic writing and a black Islamic State flag.
Police have detained a man who is believed to be behind the killing, while officials said police were holding other suspected accomplices. The 50-year-old victim, who has not yet been named, is thought to be a local company director and head of the delivery firm where his attacker worked.
The latest attack in France comes six months after the Charlie Hebdo shooting and subsequent hostage taking, which saw 17 people killed and many more injured by two gunmen.
One of the detained men is believed to be Yacine Salhi, a 35-year-old man who was known to police as a potential radical, but who had not been under surveillance for about seven years.
He allegedly entered the gates of the factory shouting that he was from Islamic State.
Police were yesterday searching Salhi’s ground-floor apartment in a three-storey building in Saint Priest in the Rhone – where Salhi and his wife and three children were believed to have lived for just a few months.
A car rammed the factory gate yesterday morning and ploughed into gas canisters, causing an explosion. Security officials said the attacker had miscalculated the explosive power of the canisters, adding that he had planned to create a much larger blast.
Two other people are believed to have been injured, including a fireman.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said the prime minister had expressed his sympathies to president François Hollande at a Euro Council summit in Brussels.
The spokeswoman said: “He expressed his sympathies for what looks like an appalling incident. Details are still emerging, so we wait to see those. But it clearly looks an extremely concerning situation and our thoughts are with all those affected by it.”
Mr Hollande returned to France from Brussels yesterday afternoon.
“No doubt about the intention – to cause an explosion,” Mr Hollande said, adding that the attack was “of a terrorist nature”.
Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said a man who had been flagged up in 2006 for suspected ties to extremists was seized by an alert firefighter, and was one of several people in custody after the attack.