Man am­bushes French sol­diers in car at­tack

Cape Breton Post - - World -

A man rammed his car into a group of sol­diers near Paris, in­jur­ing six of them, and then was cor­nered by po­lice in a high­way man­hunt _ the lat­est in what’s be­come a dis­turbingly fa­mil­iar pat­tern of at­tacks tar­get­ing French se­cu­rity forces.

It’s un­clear what mo­ti­vated the driver, who was hos­pi­tal­ized with bul­let wounds af­ter the cal­cu­lated morn­ing am­bush and an hours-long po­lice chase. Au­thor­i­ties said he de­lib­er­ately ac­cel­er­ated his BMW into a clus­ter of sol­diers in what pros­e­cu­tors are in­ves­ti­gat­ing as a po­ten­tial ter­ror­ist at­tack.

Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron went to Twitter to ex­press his “con­grat­u­la­tions to the forces of or­der that ap­pre­hended the per­pe­tra­tor of the at­tack,’’ and also to urge con­tin­ued vig­i­lance across the coun­try.

Macron’s gov­ern­ment painted the in­ci­dent in the sub­urb of Le­val­lois-Per­ret as proof of the need to ap­prove a new se­cu­rity law that critics con­tend in­fringes on lib­er­ties and would put France in a per­ma­nent

state of emer­gency.

Wed­nes­day’s at­tack caused no deaths and hurt no civil­ians, but still set nerves on edge: It was the sev­enth at­tempted at­tack on se­cu­rity forces guard­ing France this year alone. While oth­ers have tar­geted prom­i­nent sites like the Eif­fel Tower, Wed­nes­day’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. De­fence Min­is­ter Florence Parly called it a re­minder 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 black BMW in a cul-de-sac near the Le­val­lois city hall and a build­ing used as a stag­ing point for sol­diers in France’s op­er­a­tion to pro­tect prom­i­nent sites, ac­cord­ing to two po­lice of­fi­cials, who like oth­ers con­nected to the case weren’t au­tho­rized to be pub­licly named be­cause of the on­go­ing po­lice op­er­a­tion.

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, one of the of­fi­cials said. Col­lomb said the car first ap­proached slowly then sped up about five me­ters (yards) from its tar­get.

A nearby res­i­dent de­scribed hear­ing an ear-pierc­ing scream of pain, then sol­diers chas­ing af­ter the flee­ing car.

Au­thor­i­ties checked video sur­veil­lance of the area and po­lice fanned out and stopped nu­mer­ous cars as they searched for the at­tacker.

Then, on the A16 high­way near the English Chan­nel port of Calais, po­lice stopped what Prime Min­is­ter Edouard Philippe called the “prin­ci­pal sus­pect.’’ Im­ages of the ar­rest scene showed emer­gency ve­hi­cles sur­round­ing a black BMW with a dam­aged wind­shield, on a cor­doned-off high­way in the midst of ver­dant fields.

AP PHOTO

French se­cu­rity forces and emer­gency ve­hi­cles sur­round a car, cen­tre, on a high­way be­tween Boulogne-sur-Mer and Calais in north­ern France that au­thor­i­ties say was used in an at­tack on sol­diers near Paris on Wed­nes­day, Aug. 9, 2017.

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