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4 U.S. female college students attacked with acid in France; terrorism not suspected

PARIS — Four young American women attacked with acid Sunday in the French city of Marseille are Boston College students studying abroad, the college said Sunday.

Terrorism was not suspected, authorities said. A lone female attacker, 41, with a history of mental health problems was arrested at the scene.

Boston College said in a statement that the students are all juniors. Three of the women, identified as Courtney Siverling, Charlotte Kaufman, and Michelle Krug, are enrolled in the college’s Paris program, The Boston Globe reported. A fourth, identified as Kesley Korsten, studies 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,” said Nick Gozik, director of the college’s Office of International Programs.

The women were treated for burns at a Marseille hospital and released, the college said. Two suffered facial injuries and one of the two also had a possible eye injury, a spokeswoman for the Marseille prosecutor’s office said Sunday.

Two of the women had been hospitalized for shock, a spokeswoman for the Marseille prosecutor’s office told the Associated Press.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said its counter-terrorism division had not assumed jurisdiction for the attack. The prosecutor’s office has responsibility for all terror-related cases in France.

Regional newspaper La Provence, quoting unidentified police officials, reported that the female suspect had a history of mental health problems and didn’t try to flee the site of the attack.

The spokeswoman at 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, but added that officials could not 100% rule out terror links at such an early stage of the investigation.

The spokeswoman spoke on condition of anonymity, per the custom of the French judicial system.

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.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Paris said the U.S. consulate in Marseille was in contact with French authorities about the attack investigation and the condition of the American women.

U.S. authorities in France were not immediately commenting further on what happened to protect the victims’ privacy, 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” on French territory.

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.

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