Local reports claim two suspects rammed a car into the factory and attacked with gas canisters

By Tara Fowler
June 26, 2015 07:00 AM

A severed head covered in Arabic writings was found pinned to the gates of a U.S.-owned chemical plant in the sleepy town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, France, Friday morning in a suspected terrorist attack.

A body was found nearby. A man, identified as Yacine Sali, has been arrested in connection with the incident and is being questioned, but is refusing to talk. He is in his 30s and known to French anti-terrorism agents, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Friday.

Local reports say two suspects rammed a car into the Air Products factory and attacked with gas canisters, causing an explosion. At least two others were wounded in the attack. There are also reports that the body was found next to an Islamist flag.

“We are still in shock,” Christiane Moiroud, an employee at the nearby clothing company Axel SARL, tells PEOPLE. “One of our colleagues went home but the rest of us are staying here. We don’t even want to leave.”

Moiroud describes the town as “the last place on earth you’d think something like this would happen I feel so sorry for everyone who works there and the victim.”

Says her co-worker Sylvie, who asked only to be identified by her first name: “We know some of the people in the factory but we don’t know yet the names of the person who was killed or the ones who were injured.

“There are helicopters flying all over and police everywhere,” she adds. “You’d think it was a war zone.”

In a statement Friday, President François Hollande confirmed the incident was a “pure terrorist attack.”

“We have no doubt the attack was intended to explode the building,” Hollande said. “The attack bears the hallmarks of a terrorist attack.

“A decapitated body was found with inscriptions written on it. There was one dead and two injured,” he continued. “The suspect who carried out this attack was arrested and identified.”

Company spokeswoman Nicola Long confirmed that their had been an explosion and that emergency services were on the scene.

The Paris prosecutor’s office is opening an investigation into the attack.

Reporting by DANA KENNEDY