US tourists hospitalized after acid attack in France

Four young women from the US have been hospitalized after being sprayed with acid at a train station in the French city of Marseille. French officials said the suspected assailant appeared to be mentally disturbed.

Four American students were attacked with acid inside a train station in the southern port city of Marseille on Sunday, French authorities said. All four were from Boston College, a private Jesuit university in Massachusetts and in their 20s. They were treated at a hospital, two of them for shock. 

The attack took place in Marseille's Saint-Charles train station

The suspected assailant, a 41-year-old woman, sprayed the young women in the face with hydrochloric acid. The morning attack took place inside the Mediterranean port city's Saint-Charles train station.

The women were discharged from the hospital in the afternoon.

"It appears that the students are fine, considering the circumstances, though they may require additional treatment for burns," Nick Gozik, who directs Boston College's Office of International Programs. "We have been in contact with the students and their parents and remain in touch with French officials and the US Embassy regarding the incident."

Read more: Police investigate series of random acid attacks on women in Berlin

Suspect suffers from psychological issues

The suspected attacker was arrested at the scene and appeared to be mentally disturbed, authorities said.

The 41-year-old woman did not make any terrorist threats or declarations during the attack, the prosecutor's office told AP.

Marseille police said that the woman targeted people who were standing closest to her and did not choose her victims based on nationality, AFP reported.

The source added that the incident "was not of a terrorist nature," adding that the suspect was known to the police for theft.

Read more: London acid attacks — police arrest two teenagers

US consulate officials in Marseille were in contact with French authorities about the attack investigation and the condition of the US tourists, said a spokesperson for the US embassy in Paris.

Last month, a woman died after a driver deliberately rammed into two bus stops in Marseille, but police said the incident wasn't terror-related.

rs/kl  (AP, AFP, dpa)

Surviving acid attacks

Farida from Bangladesh

Farida's husband was addicted to drugs and gambling. He lost so much money that he had to sell their house. She threatened to leave him. That night, while she was sleeping, he poured acid over her and locked the bedroom door. Farida cried and screamed so loud that neighbors came to her rescue, breaking the door open.

Surviving acid attacks

Scarred for life

At the time of the attack, Farida was 24 years old. Since then she has undergone 17 surgeries. Her mother massages her scars regularly to keep the skin smooth. Farida is now living with her sister. She has no home of her own.

Surviving acid attacks

Flavia from Uganda

In 2009, Flavia was attacked by a stranger right outside her childhood home. Until today, she does not know who threw acid at her. But after years of hiding at home she decided: "My life needs to go on." Here she is seen dressing up before going out to a salsa dance night.

Surviving acid attacks

Support from friends and family

Once a week she is out dancing, and she is a desirable dancing partner as Flavia knows how to move. Therefore the men hardly ever leave her time to rest between dances. The ongoing support from her family and especially her two best friends has helped Flavia get her life back.

Surviving acid attacks

Neehari from India

When she was 19 years old, Neehari tried to kill herself. She was too desperate to go on living. Her husband abused her physically and mentally.

Surviving acid attacks

New beauty

The room in which Neehari is now doing her hair, is the room in which she set herself on fire: her parents' bedroom. It was the 49th and last match in the box which finally caught fire. Today, Neehari says she would not want to be that girl again. Instead, she got a tattoo and founded her own organisation called "Beauty of the Burned Women".

Surviving acid attacks

Nusrat from Pakistan

Nusrat was attacked with acid first by her husband and then by her brother-in-law. Luckily, she survived. Alone in her room Nusrat gets ready for the day. "I have met many women who lined their eyelids with particular diligence," German photographer Ann-Christine Woehrl says, referring to Nusrat and other acid attack survivors.

Surviving acid attacks

Eyes of hope

Because of the acid attack, Nusrat has lost parts of her hair. Together with her doctor she decides on how to continue with the healing process and how to slowly get her hairstyle back.

Surviving acid attacks

Among friends

Nusrat goes to meetings of the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) regularly, to exchange thoughts, share pain and gossip with fellow attack victims. Like her, the women in the room have suffered and understand. And everyone at the ASF meetings knows: "I am not alone."