Air Products
Industryweek 9004 Air Products

Factory Attacked In France Is Allentown, Pa.-Based NASA Supplier

June 26, 2015
The suspect drove a vehicle into the Air Products factory about 25 miles from Lyon and set off several small explosive devices, the source said.

LYON, France—An attacker carrying an Islamist flag killed one person and injured several others Friday at a gas factory in eastern France, according to a legal source.

The suspect drove a vehicle into the Air Products factory about 25 miles from Lyon, France's second-largest city, and set off several small explosive devices, the source said. Air Products is an Allentown, Pa., based company that produces gas and chemicals, including oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, argon, helium and carbon dioxide. NASA is one of the company's main customers, using liquid hydrogen from Air Product to send spacecraft into space. 

A decapitated body was found nearby the factory, another source said, and the man’s head was pinned to the factory gates.  The deceased man has been identified as a local businessman from eastern France, a source close to the investigation said Friday.

"We can confirm that an attack occurred at our facility in L'Isle-d'Abeau, France this morning," Air Products said in a statement on its website. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and want to express our sympathies to the family of the victim of this unspeakable tragedy.

"Emergency services are on site and have contained the situation. All individuals working at the site have been evacuated. The site is secure. Our crisis and emergency response teams have been activated and are working closely with all relevant authorities.

"Security has been increased at locations around the world as a precautionary measure."

A 35-year-old man thought to be the person who carried out the attack has been arrested, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

"He was investigated in 2006 for radicalization, but (the probe) was not renewed in 2008. He had no criminal record," Cazeneuve said.

He identified the suspect as Yacine Salhi, 35, who was known to have lived around Lyon, near the site 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," added the minister, who rushed to the scene in eastern France.

The deceased man was Sahli's boss, a source close to the investigation said.

Salhi had remained on intelligence authorities' radar, Cazeneuve said. Salhi’s wife has also been taken into police custody, a legal source said, as has another person who was seen driving up and down the gas site in a suspicious manner but has not been formally linked to the attack.

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

Also today, dozens died in explosions at a Tunisian resort and one at a Kuwaiti mosque. It is not yet clear whether the attacks are linked.

Air Products, according to its website, has offices in 40 countries and more than 21,000 employees. The multinational company provides products and services for some of the energy and transport sector, the semiconductor industry and healthcare. It makes adhesives, coatings atmospheric gases, process gases and specialty gas.

Revenues from Air Products last year amounted to 10.4 billion dollars.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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