FRANCE TERRORIST WATCH
Car hits soldiers in suspected terror act
Site of the attack, the affluent Levallois-Perret suburb, is home to France’s domestic counterterrorism agency
Paris — A car rammed into a group of soldiers in a Parisian suburb on Wednesday, injuring six before speeding off and sparking a manhunt that a judicial source said ended with the suspect’s arrest on a motorway.
In an attack that authorities said bore the stamp of terrorism, the driver appeared to have lain in wait for the soldiers in a pedestrian zone near their base in Levallois-Perret.
The affluent suburb on the northwestern edge of Paris is home to France’s domestic counterterrorism agency. Several dozen troops from Operation Sentinel, launched in the wake of Islamist attacks in Paris in early 2015, are based there.
The car accelerated into the troops, who were starting their patrol, when they were a few metres away, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters outside the hospital in which the three more seriously injured victims were being treated.
"This was a deliberate act, not an accident," Collomb said, adding that counterterrorism investigators had taken up the case. A judicial source said the unarmed suspect was arrested on a motorway in northern France after. A witness saw a bullet-riddled BMW at the scene. One policeman was injured by a stray bullet in the operation.
The Levallois-Perret attack was the 15th on soldiers and police since they were deployed in large numbers nationwide after a series of Islamist militant attacks over the past two-and-a-half years.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said Wednesday’s attack was proof there remained an active threat and that the 7,000-strong Sentinel force "was more necessary than ever". Three soldiers had light injuries, Parly said, while three others were more gravely hurt, but not as seriously as previously thought.
Patrick Balkany, mayor of Levallois-Perret, characterised it as a "disgusting" act of aggression that was "without any doubt" premeditated.
Jean-Claude Veillant, a resident of an apartment building directly above the scene, witnessed part of the attack.