Six injured as vehicle hits French soldiers in Paris suburb, police hunt driver
French police say a vehicle slammed into soldiers guarding a Paris suburb, injuring six of them, before getting away.world Updated: Aug 09, 2017 21:58 IST
A car rammed into a group of soldiers in a Parisian suburb on Wednesday, injuring six before speeding off in what its mayor called a deliberate act.
Levallois-Perret Mayor Patrick Balkany said the car, a BMW, was parked in an alley before it accelerated into the soldiers as they left their barracks to go on patrol duty.
Police said two of the six were seriously injured.
Speaking to broadcaster BFM TV, Balkany said that what he called a “disgusting” act of aggression was “without any doubt” premeditated.
“It all happened very quickly. The vehicle did not stop. It hurtled at them ... it accelerated rapidly.” The soldiers were rushed to hospital, he added.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly condemned it as a “cowardly act”.
The incident, described by police as deliberate, “does nothing to dent soldiers’ determination to work for the security of the French people,” she said in a statement.
The anti-terrorism unit of the Paris prosecutors’ office has launched a probe in the incident.
France remains on maximum alert after a string of attacks in which Islamist militants or Islamist-inspired attackers have killed more than 230 people over the past two years.
Police said a search for the driver and the vehicle, which they described as dark-coloured and probably a BMW, was under way.
It was parked on the edge of the Place de Verdun square in the centre of Levallois, which is situated on the western edge of Paris.
The area, quieter than normal in peak summer holiday season, was cordoned off after the incident, which happened at around 8:00 a.m., police said.
Levallois-Perret is about 5 km (3 miles) from city centre landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Elysee Presidential Palace.
France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015 and has seen a string of attacks on security forces who have been regularly targeted, particularly those guarding key tourist sites.
An 18-year-old with a history of psychological problems was arrested on Saturday at the Eiffel Tower after brandishing a knife and shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest).
He told investigators he wanted to kill a soldier, sources close to the case told AFP
In February, a man armed with a machete attacked four soldiers on patrol at Paris’s Louvre Museum, while in April another extremist shot and killed a policeman on the Champs Elysees.
In June, a 40-year-old Algeria doctorate student who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group attacked a policeman with a hammer outside Notre Dame cathedral.