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French Police Investigate Acid Attack On 4 U.S. Women

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Four American students who are studying abroad in Europe had acid thrown at them at a train station in Marseille, France, yesterday. French police are saying that this was a random attack. Here's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: The incident took place at the Saint Charles train station in the southern French city of Marseille about 11 a.m. local time Sunday. The four students were preparing to board a train when a woman, who police describe as deranged, threw hydrochloric acid at them. Two of the students were hit in the face, the two others on the legs. French police arrested the woman who allegedly threw the acid. They say the attack is not terrorist-related. The U.S. embassy in Paris says it won't comment on the incident due to privacy concerns. But Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn, who was informed about the details of the incident, spoke to a local Boston TV news channel.

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JACK DUNN: They had gone to the train station to take the train back to Paris. And then they were - had the acid attack by the woman who, we're told by French police, threw the acid on them and then sat down immediately on the street corner until French police arrived to arrest her.

BEARDSLEY: French police say the 41-year-old woman, who is now in custody, is psychologically disturbed and claims to have been a victim herself of an acid attack. She stayed at the scene to show officers pictures of herself with acid burns. The incident is being treated as a random criminal attack in Marseille. France's second largest city is known for its problem with drug violence and criminal gangs.

Dunn says the four students are doing fine but shaken. He says it was also a shock to the school, which has been sending students to study abroad for decades. Three of the students are studying in Paris, the fourth in Copenhagen. One of the students said on her Facebook page that they were all OK and that the help given by the U.S. Consulate and French police was wonderful. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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