French police used gunfire to “neutralize” a man who is believed to have used a car to ram into a group of soldiers on patrol in a Paris suburb early Wednesday — an attack that injured six people. The suspect is now in the hospital, local media report.
After an intense search, officers intercepted the car on the A16 highway that runs from the outskirts of Paris north to Calais, the National Police says. The officers who confronted him are part of the special Research and Intervention Brigade, or BRI, which takes on serious crime in France.
Confronted more than 160 miles from the scene of the initial attack, the suspect tried once more to escape, hit a police car and was shot five times, according to BFM TV. The station adds that the man was born in 1980, and that other details have not been released.
After the arrest was confirmed, the first deputy mayor of Levallois-Perret, Isabelle Balkany, tweeted “Bravo to the police forces!”
Of the attack Wednesday morning, officials said the car had been “visibly pre-positioned” and that its driver targeted a dozen soldiers as they left their quarters.
“The vehicle took off after the incident, which took place at about 8:00 a.m.,” France’s RFI radio reports.
Officials say a BMW was used to carry out the attack. At least two soldiers who were seriously injured are now in a military hospital, according to the government of Levallois-Perret, northwest of the center of Paris.
The mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany, “is indignant at this odious aggression” that he believes was “aimed deliberately” at the military, the city says.
Officials say they don’t yet know the motive for the attack, but given the circumstances, the anti-terrorism section of the Paris public prosecutor’s office has taken control of the investigation, BFM TV reports.
The soldiers who came under attack Wednesday are part of France’s Operation Sentinel, which for the past two years has integrated the military into public security operations. In that time, the country has been under a state of emergency.
French Army Minister Florence Parly offered her support for the injured and their families and said she will visit the hospitalized soldiers today.
Parly also condemned “with the utmost firmness this cowardly act.”