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Sunday, 3 January 2016

Man rams car into French soldiers


PATRICK GARDIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A man attacked French soldiers outside a Valence mosque by ramming his car into them twice Friday afternoon, officials said.

A man rammed his car into French soldiers twice outside a crowded Valence mosque Friday afternoon, officials said.

The four soldiers guarding the mosque in southeastern France shot the driver of the red Peugeot before he was arrested and hospitalized, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Drian said in a statement.

One of the soldiers suffered a slight leg injury and a stray bullet fired by them hit a bystander in the leg, according to Cazeneuve and Drian. Authorities are investigating the motives of the attacker, who wasn’t immediately identified.

“The four soldiers were in front of the mosque, a moderate, quiet mosque, in between two prayers, at a time when many worshipers arrived,” Valence Mayor Nicolas Daragon told The Express Tribune. “A car drove at them.”

Hundreds of local Muslims had flocked to the mosque and the soldiers, some of whom got knocked down when the driver ran into them, fired warning shots before wounding the driver, Daragon said.
PATRICK GARDIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The driver of the red Peugeot was shot and arrested, authorities said. The as-yet-unidentified man was taken to a local hospital after the attack.

“Even if this happened near a mosque, the target was the soldiers,” the mayor told iTele.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls praised the soldiers in a statement postedon Twitter Friday night.

“I support the military attacked in Valence,” Valls said. “Full recognition to all our forces mobilized for the security of France.”

The country is still reeling and watchful after the Islamic State-linked terror attacks on Paris killed 130 people Nov. 13. The troops were guarding the mosque as part of France’s enhanced security at houses of worship and other sensitive sites.

Officials said hundreds of worshipers were at the mosque when the attack happened.

Investigators have to be “extremely prudent about the motive” for Friday’s attack, said Frederic Ouiseau, the secretary-general of the prosecutor’s office, in an interview with iTele.

With News Wire Services

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