- Reuters/Business Insider
French police have arrested a man over a potential terror attack in which six French soldiers were rammed by a BMW in Paris.
Officers arrested a man on a highway north of Paris in connection with the attack on Wednesday afternoon, the AFP news agency reported.
Police officials said that they took the man into custody on a motorway after shooting him. He is in his mid-30s and was behind the wheel of the same BMW used the in attack, they said. He was reportedly headed for Calais.
Prosecutors in Paris opened an anti-terror investigation into the attack earlier in the day.
Three of the soldiers involved in the attack were badly injured, according to a government statement.
French interior minister Gérard Collomb? tweeted pictures of himself visiting the hospital where the soldiers were being treated. One photograph appears to show a serviceman in a hospital gown sitting on his bed:
— Gérard Collomb (@gerardcollomb) August 9, 2017
The soldiers, part of the French army’s 35th Infantry Regiment, were in the Levallois-Perret area to the northwest of the city when they were hit by the dark-coloured car.
French media reported that the six soldiers were leaving their barracks just after 8 a.m. local time when the BMW drove into them.
Emergency vehicles could be seen gathered next to a narrow alleyway at the scene of the incident, near the Levallois-Perret town hall.
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The deputy mayor of Levallois-Perret, Isabelle Balkany, tweeted a message describing the attack, which she said was clearly premeditated.
She said: “This morning at 7.56 a.m., a vehicle that had visibly prepositioned itself drove, on purpose, toward around 10 soldiers from Opération Sentinelle at the exit of the barracks that were built for them two years ago by the municipality.”
She added that police and military authorities are reviewing CCTV of the attack:
— Isabelle Balkany (@ibalkany) August 9, 2017
Earlier the mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany (who is Isabelle Balkany’s husband), gave an interview to the BFM TV channel in which he also said the attack was “without a doubt a deliberate act.”
Militaires blessés à Levallois-Perret: "C'est sans aucun doute un acte délibéré" pour Patrick Balkany pic.twitter.com/RU1kTA7O9a
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) August 9, 2017
BFM reported that the soldiers were part of Opération Sentinelle, part of the emergency response to the wave of terror attacks in France, which began with the attack on the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015.
The operation has seen soldiers routinely deployed to protect sensitive targets alongside regular police.