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Two men held over fatal stabbing in Marseille

Suspects arrested by police in Toulon in connection with October 1 killing of two women at Saint-Charles train station.

French police investigating the fatal stabbing of two young women in the southern city of Marseille have arrested two men, according to a judicial source.

The pair, aged 24 and 29, were arrested on Tuesday in Toulon, about 65km east of Marseille.

Ahmed Hanachi, a 29-year-old Tunisian, fatally stabbed the two women at Marseille's Saint-Charles train station on October 1, before being shot and killed by police, according to French authorities.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility, but French investigators have not found any evidence linking the attack to the group.

A judicial source, speaking on Wednesday of the arrests, said: "The 24-year-old man may have hosted the killer, Ahmed Hanachi, during one of his visits to Toulon."

The source said the suspects were together when they were arrested.

Police have focused their investigation on Hanachi's family, arresting four of his siblings in the days following the attack. Two have been freed.

The other two siblings, brothers Anouar and Anis, await extradition after their arrests in Switzerland and Italy, respectively.

Complicity suspicion

French investigators suspect Anis of complicity in the Marseille attack.

Described as a former fighter in the Iraqi-Syrian area, he is expected to be extradited to France.

According to Lamberto Giannini, head of Italian counterterrorism, French investigators are looking into whether Anis "indoctrinated his brother Ahmed and caused his radicalisation".

The second-youngest of five siblings, Ahmed Hanachi was not known to attend any mosque.

But he was known to the police for drug, as well as alcohol, problems and had a history of petty crime, using seven aliases. He was not on a "jihadist watchlist".

Two days before the attack, he was arrested for shoplifting in the eastern city of Lyon but was allowed to walk free the following day.

The decision, according to the government's inspectorate general, revealed "serious faults" in the system around dealing with foreigners whose papers are not in order.

Controversial new law

Just days after the Marseille stabbing, France's lower house of parliament approved a controversial new counterterrorism law.

Polls suggested most people in France approved of the law, but it has been criticised by rights groups.

The law will incorporate several measures including easier searches of homes and confining individuals to their hometowns, without judicial approval.

The bill was approved on October 4 by 415 votes to 127, with 19 abstentions, and is expected to become law before the latest state of emergency extension expires on November 1.

The stated aim of the new law is to bring an end to the nearly two-year-long state of emergency.

The state of emergency was first introduced after the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015, for which ISIL, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility.

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