August 10, 2017 08:08
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has confirmed the arrest of the man suspected of ramming a car into a group of French soldiers Wednesday in a suburb of Paris, injuring six of them in what authorities say was a deliberate attack.
French police shot and arrested the unnamed suspect in a car during a manhunt north of Paris. "A suspect who was driving in the car involved in the attack has been arrested on the highway between Paris and Boulogne-sur-Mer," Philippe told lawmakers during a parliamentary session.
French government spokesman Christophe Castaner said the Paris prosecutor's office has opened a counterterrorism investigation. The incident happened as the soldiers left their barracks in Levallois-Perret to go on patrol.
Mayor Patrick Balkany said "without a doubt" the attack was intentional. "The vehicle did not stop," Balkany said. "It hurtled at them... it accelerated rapidly."
The attack is the 15th attack on French soldiers and police officers in the past two-and-a-half years. It follows a series of other Islamic State-inspired strikes on soldiers and police, large numbers of whom have been deployed in France in response to IS calls for attacks against France and other countries that have bombed IS positions in Iraq and Syria.
All told, more than 230 people, mainly civilians, have been killed in attacks inspired by the militant group over the past two-and-a-half years, including two 2015 attacks in Paris and another in the coastal city of Nice in mid-2016.
The soldiers injured in Wednesday's attack were assigned to the 7,000 strong Sentinelle force, which was created to guard against popular French attractions following the string of fatal attacks.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said the attack is further evidence the Sentinel force "was more necessary than ever." None of the six soldiers targeted in the attack is believed to have sustained life threatening injuries.
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