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Four American Women Studying Abroad Attacked With Acid In French Train Station

MARSIELLE, France (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) -- Four young American women -- all of them students from Boston College -- were attacked with acid Sunday at a train station in the French city of Marseille.

French authorities so far do not think extremist views motivated the 41-year-old woman who was arrested as the alleged assailant, the local prosecutor's office said. French police described the woman as "disturbed."

Two of the young women suffered facial injuries during the late morning attack at Marseille's Saint Charles train station and one of the two also had a possible eye injury, a spokeswoman for the Marseille prosecutor's office told The Associated Press in a phone call.

She said all four of the women were hospitalized, two of them for shock. The suspect was taken into police custody.

Boston College confirmed that the victims were all students there and are studying abroad this semester.

They were identified as Boston College juniors Courtney Siverling, Charlotte Kaufman, and Michelle Krug – and junior Kesley Korsten, who is a student at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.


"It appears that the students are fine, considering the circumstances, though they may require additional treatment for burns," Nick Gozik, who directs BC's Office of International Programs, said in a news release. "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."

Charlotte Kaufman
Charlotte Kaufman of Huntington was one of four American students injured in an acid attack in Marseille, France on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (Credit: Kaufman Family)

Kaufman is from Huntington, Long Island, while Krug is from White Plains.

"That's disgusting that that happened, and to all people," a neighbor of Krug's said. "I hope she' s OK and I'm so sorry that this happened to her."

The Paris prosecutor's office said that its counter-terrorism division has decided for the time being not to assume jurisdiction for investigating the attack. The prosecutor's office in the capital, which has responsibility for all terror-related cases in France, did not explain the reasoning behind the decision.

The spokeswoman for the Marseille prosecutor's office said the suspect did not make any extremist threats or declarations during the attack. She said there were no obvious indications that the woman's actions were terror-related.

The Marseille fire department was alerted just after 11 a.m. and dispatched four vehicles and 14 firefighters to the train station, a department spokeswoman said.

Two of the BC students were "slightly injured" with acid but did not require emergency medical treatment from medics at the scene, the spokeswoman said.

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 Marseille was in contact with French authorities.

U.S. authorities in France are not immediately commenting on what happened to protect the privacy of the American tourists, embassy spokesman Alex Daniels said.

Marseille is a port city in southern France that is closer to Barcelona than Paris.

In previous incidents in Marseille, a driver deliberately rammed into two bus stops last month, killing a woman, but officials said it wasn't terror-related.

In April, French police said they thwarted an imminent "terror attack" and arrested two suspected radicals in Marseille just days before the first round of France's presidential election. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters the two suspects "were getting ready to carry out an imminent, violent action." In January 2016, a 15-year-old Turkish Kurd was arrested after attacking a Jewish teacher on a Marseille street. He told police he acted in the name of the Islamic State group.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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