Sus­pect jailed af­ter car rams into Paris anti-ter­ror troops

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

French po­lice shot and ar­rested a sus­pect in a dra­matic mo­tor­way chase yes­ter­day af­ter a car smashed into sol­diers out­side a bar­racks in a Paris sub­urb, in­jur­ing six. The sus­pected ter­ror at­tack is the lat­est in a string of as­saults that have hit France since Jan­uary 2015, claim­ing more than 230 lives.

The ser­vice­men were hit by a BMW which drove down a quiet street in the up­mar­ket western Paris sub­urb of Le­val­loisPer­ret at around 8:00 am. It ac­cel­er­ated as it neared the troops, rammed into them and then sped away. “I heard a huge crash which I thought was the sound of scaf­fold­ing be­ing put up,” Thierry Chappe, a res­i­dent in a build­ing op­po­site the crime scene, told AFP.

Po­lice later gave chase to the ve­hi­cle on a mo­tor­way north of Paris, and shot and wounded the sus­pect, a man aged in his late 30s who was also ar­rested, sources in­volved in the man­hunt said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity. In­te­rior Min­is­ter Ger­ard Col­lomb de­scribed the act as “de­lib­er­ate” and car­ried out by a “man on his own”.

He spoke af­ter vis­it­ing three of the in­jured sol­diers along with De­fence Min­is­ter Florence Parly. All six were taken to hos­pi­tal, but none has life-threat­en­ing in­juries, they said. They were part of the 7,000-strong anti-ter­ror­ism Sen­tinelle force set up in Jan­uary 2015 which sees armed, uni­formed sol­diers pa­trol the streets and guard high-risk ar­eas such as tourist sites and re­li­gious build­ings.

Col­lomb said the forces had been at­tacked on six dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions since 2015. The coun­try has been un­der a state of emer­gency since ma­jor at­tacks in Paris in Novem­ber 2015. The Paris pros­e­cu­tors’ of­fice said its anti-ter­ror­ism unit has launched a probe into “at­tempted killings... in re­la­tion to a ter­ror­ist un­der­tak­ing”. The Is­lamic State group (IS) has re­peat­edly tar­geted France be­cause of its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the US-led in­ter­na­tional coali­tion fight­ing the ji­hadist group, with French jets car­ry­ing out air strikes in Syria. “Se­cu­rity forces are ac­tively seek­ing the per­pe­tra­tor who is on the run. The on­go­ing probe will de­ter­mine his mo­tives and the cir­cum­stances in which he acted,” Parly said in a state­ment ear­lier.

Lat­est at­tack

The in­ci­dent came just four days af­ter Sen­tinelle sol­diers in­ter­vened to con­trol an 18-year-old with a his­tory of psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems at the Eif­fel Tower where he bran­dished a knife and shouted “Al­lahu Ak­bar” (God is Great­est). He told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he wanted to kill a sol­dier, sources close to the case told AFP.

In Fe­bru­ary, a man armed with a ma­chete at­tacked four sol­diers on pa­trol at Paris’s Lou­vre Mu­seum, while in April an­other ex­trem­ist shot and killed a po­lice­man on the Champs-El­y­sees, the French cap­i­tal’s most fa­mous boule­vard. In June, a 40-year-old Al­ge­rian doc­tor­ate stu­dent who had pledged al­le­giance to IS at­tacked a po­lice­man with a ham­mer out­side Notre Dame cathe­dral.

The wave of at­tacks in France has had a se­ri­ous im­pact on tourism in the world’s top tourist des­ti­na­tion, but the in­dus­try has be­gun to re­cover as in­ci­dents have be­come more wide­spread and gen­er­ally less deadly. The at­tack took place as the new cen­trist gov­ern­ment was hold­ing its last cab­i­net meet­ing be­fore the sum­mer hol­i­days.

Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron pub­licly clashed with the head of the French armed forces last month over a pro­posed cut to the mil­i­tary bud­get this year. Macron slapped down Gen­eral Pierre de Vil­liers, telling him “I’m your boss”, af­ter he com­plained about the im­pact of the cuts at a time when the army was in ac­tion in the Mid­dle East and West Africa as well as at home. De Vil­liers re­signed a few days later. — AFP

PARIS: French Po­lice work on the scene where French sol­diers were hit and in­jured by a ve­hi­cle in the western Paris sub­urb of Le­val­lois-Per­ret. —AP

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