One killed, others hurt in French factory attack

French police secure the entrance of the Air Products company in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon, central eastern France, on June 26, 2015. (AFP)

France has started an investigation and detained a suspect after a headless body and Islamist flags were found at the scene of an attack on a U.S.-owned gas factory near the south-eastern city of France’s second largest city, Lyon.

The suspect, named as Yacine Salhi, 35, was arrested in connection with the attack. He had been investigated nine years ago for radicalization and has links to a Salafist movement, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. Salhi was known to have lived around Lyon.

“He was investigated in 2006 for radicalization, but [the probe] was not renewed in 2008. He had no criminal record,” Cazeneuve said.

“Islamist terrorism has again struck France,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said.

Valls ordered heightened security measures Friday at “sensitive sites” near the gas factory.

Valls, who is on an official trip to South America, asked Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to head to Saint-Quentin Fallavier, the site of the attack, the premier’s entourage said.

Authorities are in the process of investigating whether Salhi had an accomplice.

“According to the initial findings of the enquiry, one or several individuals on board a vehicle, drove into the factory. An explosion then took place,” said one of the sources.

“The decapitated body of a person was found nearby the factory but we do not yet know whether the body was transported to the place or not,” added this source, adding that a “flag with Arabic writing on it was found on the scene.”

The attack came nearly six months after the Islamist attacks in and around Paris that killed 17 people in January that started with a shooting at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he would go "immediately" to the scene, his office said.

Hollande to leave summit

French President Francois Hollande was to return home early from an EU summit on Friday after the incident.

“He will return early this afternoon and is in constant contact with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and the security services,” the official said, adding that he would make a statement to the press in Brussels before 1100 GMT.

“The president saw the first images of the attack on the 24-news channels with German Chancellor Angela Merkel beside him, who was visibly shocked,” an official added.

The two leaders had just ended a short meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

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