Violent Arrest After Driver Hits French Soldiers

French soldiers stand near the scene in the western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret near Paris, France, where French soldiers were hit and injured on Aug. 9, 2017. French police are searching for a driver who slammed his BMW into a group of soldiers, injuring six of them in an apparent ambush before speeding away, officials said. The incident in Levallois, northwest of Paris, is the latest of several attacks targeting security forces in France. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

(CN) – Hunting down the man who drove his car into a group of soldiers just outside Paris on Wednesday, French authorities arrested a suspect they say may know more about the attack. 

A French counterterrorism unit is investigating the attack that took place just outside the barracks of the Place de Verdun in Levallois-Perret around 8 a.m. local time.

Law enforcement said several eyewitnesses reported seeing the car careen toward soldiers exiting a building near military barracks. The driver hit six soldiers, seriously injuring three, though none of the injuries were life threatening.

Gerard Collomb, France’s minister of the interior, has called the ambush a “deliberate act.”

Patrick Balkany, the mayor of the suburb Levallois-Perret, told French news that a BMW was “pre-positioned” on a small side street, with the driver laying in wait for troops to exit the building.

After reviewing video surveillance, police descended onto Paris and the surrounding area, conducting car searches in their hunt for the attacker, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

Most drivers who were stopped were immediately released. Quoting unnamed police officials, however, the AP said a man was arrested at one stop. One official said the arrest was violent, with police firing shots at the man to subdue him.

The targeted soldiers were assigned their station as a part of nation’s Operation Sentinel, a program set up after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in 2015. The Hebdo attacks kicked off a series of terrorist incidents plaguing France.

The increasing number of attacks spurred French counterterrorism prosecutors to ramp up investigations and actively pursue perpetrators who are connected to a terrorist enterprise and attempt to murder French security forces.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that he plans to boost military spending and increase security measures to counter the violence the nation has faced since 2015.

Other incidents have taken place at tourist spots such as the Louvre, the Champs-Elysees, the Notre Dame Cathedral and Orly airport. This is the sixth terrorist incident in France this year alone.

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