A bat-wielding assailant killed one person and seriously wounded another in a mosque in northern France, according to reports.

The suspect, a 32-year-old French national of Moroccan descent, has been detained by police in the city of Arras in the department of Pas-de-Calais, Reuters reported.

The suspect has a history of psychological problems, Reuters said.

Abdelkader Assouedj, regional representative of the Federation of the Grand Mosque of Paris, told Agence France-Presse, [The suspect] is a young Muslim who attended the mosque and was known as someone unbalanced.

Assouedj also said the suspect displayed unusual behavior during the prayer, and he was asked not to return to the mosque, according to France's Le Monde newspaper. However, Le Monde described the assailant's family roots as being not Moroccan but Algerian.

France's interior minister, Claude Gueant, condemned the incident. My feelings on hearing this tragedy occurred at the mosque of Arras, they are feelings of great emotion, he said, according to Le Monde. First, because it is an act of incredible brutality, and then, because a murder in a place of worship is especially repugnant.

France, with some 5 million Muslims, has the largest Islamic population in Europe.

The attack came just two days after a petrol bomb killed the imam of a mosque in Brussels.