French police shot and arrested a man yesterday suspected of slamming a BMW into soldiers in a Paris suburb, injuring six of them in what appeared to be a carefully timed ambush before speeding away, officials said.
The driver’s motive was unclear, but officials said he deliberately aimed at the soldiers, and counterterrorism authorities opened an investigation. The attacker and soldiers were hospitalized.
It was the latest of several attacks targeting security forces guarding France over the past year. While others have targeted prominent sites like the Eiffel Tower, yesterday’s attack hit the leafy, relatively affluent suburb of Levallois-Perret that is home to France’s main intelligence service, the DGSI, and its counterterrorism service.
“We know it was a deliberate act,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said. Defense Minister Florence Parly called it proof that extra security measures imposed in recent years are “more necessary than ever.”
On a quiet summer morning, the suspect was seen waiting in a BMW in a cul-de-sac near the Levallois city hall and a building used as a staging point for soldiers in France’s Sentinelle operation to protect prominent sites from attack, according to two police officials.
A group of soldiers emerged from the building to board vehicles for a new shift when the car sped up and rammed into them, its force hurling the soldiers against their van, according to one official. The interior minister said the car first approached slowly then sped up about five meters from its target.
On the A16 highway near the English Channel port of Calais, police stopped what the prime minister called the “principal suspect” in the attack. Images of the arrest scene show emergency vehicles surrounding a black BMW with a damaged windshield, on a cordoned-off highway in the midst of verdant fields.
Police officers opened fire during the arrest to subdue the man, and the suspect was injured along with a police officer hit by a stray bullet, according to a judicial official. The official wasn’t authorized to be publicly named because of an ongoing police operation.
The suspect’s condition was not immediately clear. Angela Charlton and Raphael Satter, Levallois-Perret, MDT/AP