WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama praised the heroism of US service members who overpowered a gunman aboard a high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday.
One of the two people injured in the attack was a US military member, the Pentagon confirmed, while CNN said that three American men - a member of the Air Force, an inactive National Guard member and a civilian - were the ones to prevent what might have been a massacre.
"The president expressed his profound gratitude for the courage and quick thinking of several passengers, including US service members, who selflessly subdued the attacker," a White House official said.
"While the investigation into the attack is in its early stages, it is clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy."
"We will remain in close contact with French authorities as the investigation proceeds," the official added.
The gunman, who had a Kalashnikov, an automatic pistol and a box cutter, was arrested when the train stopped at the northern French town of Arras.
In an interview with CNN, one of the Americans, Anthony Sadler, described how he and friends Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone saw the gunman emerge from a train bathroom carrying a Kalashnikov and that they instinctively leapt into action.
"My friend Alek yells, 'Get him,' so my friend Spencer immediately gets up to charge the guy, followed by Alek, then myself," Sadler told CNN.
"The three of us beat up the guy. In the process Spencer gets slashed multiple times by the box cutter, and Alek takes the AK away.
"I begin to tie him up with help from Chris, another passenger. I notice a man had his throat cut at which Spencer begins to apply pressure to the neck wound before he bled out."